A new campaign has been launched to stop the collapse of nature and to save rural livelihoods in the EU by phasing out pesticides.
Civil society organisations from across the EU have submitted a proposal to the European Commission for a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) calling for new legislation to phase out pesticides, restore biodiversity and support farmers to transform our food and farming system.
International scientists have in recent months called for an urgent "transformative change" to stop the collapse of nature. A quarter of Europe's wild animals are severely threatened, half of our nature sites are in an unfavourable condition, and ecosystem services are deteriorating.
Scientists are calling for a cut in the use of pesticides, together with a move to ecologically-based farming, in order to halt or reverse the massive decline in insect populations. In addition, four million small farms disappeared between 2005 and 2016 in the EU and have since been replaced by large agroindustrial businesses exacerbating the crisis even further.
The ECI calls on the European Commission to introduce legal proposals to:
1. Phase out synthetic pesticides by 2035: Phase out synthetic pesticides in EU agriculture by 80% by 2030, starting with the most hazardous, to become 100% free of synthetic pesticides by 2035
2. Restore biodiversity: Restore natural ecosystems in agricultural areas so that farming becomes a vector of biodiversity recovery
3. Support farmers in the transition: Reform agriculture by prioritising small scale, diverse and sustainable farming, supporting a rapid increase in agroecological and organic practice, and enabling independent farmer-based training and research into pesticide- and GMO-free farming
The campaign has been started by a cross-sector alliance of civil society organisations covering the environment, health, farming and beekeeping. Amongst others, the organisers include the European networks Friends of the Earth Europe and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) as well as the Munich Environmental Institute, the Aurelia foundation (Germany), Générations Futures (France) and GLOBAL 2000/Friends of the Earth Austria.
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