Oct. 13, 2017
The European Commission is calling for more sustainable use of pesticides in the EU with the publication of a new report taking stock of progress made by the EU Member States in applying measures to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticides.
The report on Member State National Action Plans and on progress in the implementation of Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides indicates insufficient implementation of the Directive to date.
Even careful, authorised use of pesticides can result in residues being detected in surface waters, groundwaters and tap water supplied to consumers. The surface waters, groundwater and tap water must comply with statutory quality standards established for chemical substances. The fact that even tiny amounts of pesticides are detected, or that there is a rising trend in detections can, potentially, result in countries failing to comply with EU water quality legislation.
Pesticides which result in EU water quality standards being compromised include metaldehyde (used for slug control) and herbicides used to protect oilseed rape crops.
Metaldehyde is a particularly problematic substance and is difficult to remove from raw water used to supply consumers by normal treatment processes. Water companies may be required to shut down supply from the polluted source when the extent of contamination is sufficiently severe.
The Report’s main conclusion is that while the Directive offers the potential to greatly reduce the risks derived from pesticide use, these improvements are limited and insufficient to achieve the environmental and health improvements the Directive was designed to achieve. This is largely due to the implementation of the Directive that remains patchy.
Key findings from the report include:
- Aerial spraying is banned in all EU countries, with exceptions granted only under strict conditions.
- Pesticide use is banned or minimised in public parks, sports grounds, hospitals and schools.
- Protection of aquatic environments or specific areas such as public parks is difficult to assess given the lack of measurable targets in most National Action Plans (NAPs).
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) remains underused by Member States. This is despite the fact that the number of EU-approved low risk/non-chemical pesticide substances has doubled since 2009. Compliance at individual grower level is not being systematically checked by Member States.
- Training and certification systems for professionals have been set up in all EU countries, and to date almost four million farmers have been trained to use pesticides safely. Furthermore, 900 000 sprayers have been tested for accurate and safe application.
The EC says that Member States need to improve their quality, primarily by establishing specific and measurable targets and indicators for a long term strategy for the reduction of risks and impacts from pesticide use, when revising their National Action plans.
The Commission will continue to monitor and support implementation by the Member States to provide assurance that the objectives of the Directive are being achieved.
The monitoring includes a range of actions such as audits, the evaluation of revised NAPs and other follow-up activities – for example exchange of best practices and training of professionals. The Commission will also work with Member States to develop EU harmonised risk indicators, based on Member States' experience with their national indicators.
Alongside the Report the Commission has launched a new website which contains links to Member States' websites on sustainable use of pesticides, including Integrated Pest Management (IPM), to facilitate the exchange of information.