EU Proposes Tougher Rules on Pesticides
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Commission proposed stricter rules Wednesday to regulate the use of pesticides including mandatory record-keeping of their use by farmers and a ban on aerial spraying.
EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said tougher rules were needed to improve protection of the environment and human health.
"It will ensure an even higher level of protection ... while also offering more choice to farmers and boosting competitiveness for the industry in this field," Kyprianou said.
The plan, which needs approval by European Union governments, also seeks to tighten and simplify the rules for authorizing new pesticides that come on to the EU market. It also aims to force pesticide makers to reduce animal testing of their products.
The EU head office said new rules were needed to prevent the overuse of pesticides and spur research into alternative methods. It said continued pesticide use damages water, air and soil and could cause long-term health problems for humans, animals and plants.
"Long-term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, sterility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system and genetic damage," the Commission said in a statement.
The Commission said some 300,000 tons of pesticide substances were sold in Europe in 2003 with no sign of a decrease in use over the past decade.
"Five percent of food and feed samples still contain unwanted residues of pesticides in quantities which exceed the maximum regulatory limits," the Commission said, adding that the contamination of rivers and streams was an acute problem in Europe.
The use of crop-dusters to spray pesticides will be banned "except for strictly defined cases," to ensure residues do not end up in nearby streams or wildlife areas where they could do harm.
The plan also calls for the banning of pesticides in specific sensitive areas near nature reserves or parks.
Source: Associated Press