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The « European Week for Alternatives to Pesticides » closes tomorrow and the « Save Bees and Farmers » ECI (European Citizens Initiative) national coordination sends an open letter to Italian policy makers to remind them of our country’s commitments to reduce pesticide use. The National Action Plan for the sustainable use of plant protection products expired in February 2018 and the new text presented for public consultation in 2019 has been overtaken by the objectives of the EU Strategies « Farm to Fork » and « Biodiversity » which indicate the target of a 50% reduction in the use of pesticides in Europe by 2030.

More than 30 associations and citizens’ committees, coordinated in Italy by the WWF, are writing an open letter to the three Ministers (Patuanelli, Cingolani and Speranza), to the Presidents of the Parliamentary Committees on Agriculture, Environment and Health, and to the President of the Conference of the Regions, all of whom are responsible for regulating the use of pesticides, asking them to take courageous and far-sighted positions and initiatives in Europe to strengthen the objectives of the two EU Strategies « Farm to Fork » and « Biodiversity 2030 » and to adopt coherent Plans and Programmes at national level. Italy must make up for the serious delays in updating the pesticides National Action Plan (NAP), drafting the post-2023 CAP National Strategic Plan and approving the National Organic Farming Act, all of which are indispensable tools for protecting pollinators, agriculture, the environment and citizens’ health.

The European Citizens Initiative (ECI) Save Bees and Farmers was launched in November 2019 considering that the time was ripe to make ambitious policy demands regarding the link between agriculture and biodiversity (IPBES rapport, IPCC 2019). If the ECI is successful by collecting 1 million signatures, the European Commission will be legally obliged to examine the demands made and propose binding legal acts for Member States to implement the objectives of the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies. More than 533,000 European citizens, including 20,000 Italians, have already signed the ECI « Save Bees and Farmers », supported by more than 250 organisations across Europe, and the signature collection will continue until next June.

The harmful impacts of pesticides on the environment and human health should have already been reduced with the implementation of the EU Directive (2009/128/EC) on the sustainable use of pesticides adopted in 2009 and agriculture’s dependence on synthetic chemicals significantly reduced long ago. An audit by the European Court of Auditors showed that the implementation of this Directive is inadequate in many member states, including Italy.

Collecting signatures for the ECI is important to urge EU Member States to draw up National Action Plans with concrete targets to significantly reduce pesticide use in the coming years and to turn the 50% pesticide use reduction target set by the « Farm to Fork » and « Biodiversity 2030 » strategies into a binding rule for national governments.

The main objectives of the Week for Alternatives to Pesticides, from 20 to 30 March, were to inform citizens about the health and environmental risks of synthetic chemicals used in agriculture, to promote alternative solutions and to build an international network for a pesticide-free Europe. This week was an opportunity for organisations and citizens to remind European and national policy-makers of the need to reduce the use of toxic chemicals. More than 1,000 events were organised in various European countries, including Italy, by citizens, associations, trade unions, regional and local authorities. The European public has realised how important it is to choose alternatives to pesticides in order to protect both health and the environment for future generations.

For more information: http://www.pesticideactionweek.org/

Sign the ECI « Save Bees and Farmers« 

Rome, 29 March 2021