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Der Bund Naturschtz, 21 January 2020 | Source
Resistance against the use of pesticides in agriculture is spreading throughout Europe. The need to protect water, biodiversity and human health clashes with the interests of agrochemical companies. All over the world, farming communities are under threat as a result of a flawed agricultural and trading system. Since the end of last year, a broad civil society alliance has been collecting signatures for the protection of biodiversity and small-scale rural agriculture throughout Europe. On 21st January, Dr Vandana Shiva, president of Navdanya International, has officially declared her support for the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Save bees and farmers”. The ECI aims to phase-out the use of all dangerous pesticides and help farmers to transition towards healthier and more environmentally friendly production methods.
The initiative calls on the EU Commission,
- to phase-out the use of chemical synthetic pesticides by 2035. To this end, the use of such chemical substances must be reduced by 80 percent by 2030, starting with the most hazardous active ingredients.
- to restore natural ecosystems in agricultural areas so that agriculture can become a driving force for the recovery of biodiversity.
- to support farmers in their transition through a reformed agricultural policy that gives priority to small-scale, biodiverse and sustainable agriculture. In addition, the promotion of a rapid expansion of agro-ecological practices and organic farming, through independent training by and for farmers, as well as the promotion of independent research on pesticide- and GMO-free farming.
The European Citizens’ Initiative is promoted by civil society actors from all over Europe, including environmental organisations, beekeepers’ associations, consumer protection organisations and citizens’ committees. Among the sponsors of the initiative: PAN Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Umweltinstitut München, the Aurelia Foundation (Germany), Générations Futures (France) and GLOBAL2000 (Austria).
“The ECI must and will become a strong signal for the people of Europe: We want – no, we demand – a 100 percent pesticide-free Europe in a world that is free from toxic agricultural chemicals. If we don’t save bees and insects, farmers will be lost, because with this ECI, we are fighting also for generations to come. It is with great pleasure that I, as godmother, will play an active role for the ECI to become a wake-up call for politicians in Europe to finally be consistent and courageous”
Richard Mergner from BUND Naturschutz:
“BUND Naturschutz is very pleased that Vandana Shiva, winner of the Bavarian Nature Conservation Medal, is accepting to be patron of the European Citizens’ Initiative. Vandana Shiva has given lectures and supported protests against genetic engineering in Bavaria for many years now, and thus made a decisive contribution towards the achievement of a GM-free Bavaria. She will once again make an important contribution towards a pesticide-free agriculture for future of our grandchildren”.
Gertraud Angerpointner from the AbL:
“Human rights and food sovereignty are inextricably linked. Only an organic farming system can meet the challenges we are facing and must therefore be protected from corporate interests. It gives me great joy to be able to fight for peace and justice in the world alongside this brave woman”.
Walter Haefeker of the European Professional Beekeepers Association and member of the board of the German Professional and Commercial Beekeepers Association:
“Vandana Shiva is known as a critic of globalization. Her endorsement of the European Citizens’ Initiative makes it clear that it is not only the small farmers in India who are suffering the effects of globalisation. Even in highly developed Europe, and here in Bavaria, the so-called “Strukturwandel” (structural change) continues to destroy agricultural livelihoods. The Bavarian authorities predicted as early as 2017 – long before the referendum – that the number of farms would be further halved by 2030. This intense economic pressure on farmers is passed on to our ecosystems. Vandana Shiva is an inspiration and role model for us, because she has always considered the protection of farmers and nature as one entity and rightly questioned the system”.
Karl Baer from the Umweltinstitut of Munich:
“We are delighted to have Vandana Shiva as godmother for the European Citizens’ Initiative to Save Bees and Farmers! In India, there is a federal state with six million farmers that is currently completely phasing out the use of agricultural poisons. In Europe, we are engaged in the same disputes over pesticides and yet we know nothing about them. With her inspiring personality and global recognition, Vandana Shiva bridges the communication hurdles between continents and makes the resistance against the agricultural industry stronger worldwide”.
Translation credits: Navdanya International and Pan Europe