The Health and Environment Alliance call on the EU to act on pesticides

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and its members have written to MEPs in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) committee, calling on them to support pesticide reduction in the EU, ahead of a vote on the draft Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR) tomorrow.

The letter highlights a number of health concerns associated with the use of pesticides, including links to cancer, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and prostate cancer in adults, and leukemia and tumours of the nervous system in children.

It adds that pesticide exposure is of particular concern for children, as it can harm their healthy development, increasing their risk for disease later in life. Studies have found that some pesticides are able to alter DNA, leading to the passing of health risks through generations.

The letter cites a 2022 citizen science project called the Pesticide CheckUp,  in which hair tests of over 300 people from 15 EU countries, found pesticides in the hair of nearly every third person – and the test only looked for 6% of all active pesticide substances currently authorised in the EU. 

European agriculture is pesticide-intensive, relying on a vast amount of substances that independent scientific literature has linked to cancer, but they are still used in parks, schoolyards, sport facilities and other areas where children and other groups at risk spend their time.

The letter ends by calling for three actions:

Swiftly negotiate a legally-binding health-first update of EU pesticides rules to protect current and  future generations
‘To prevent further serious health impacts and to safeguard the health of current and future generations, EU decision makers need to adopt the legally-binding SUR. This would also mean hearing the call of over 3,300 scientists from across Europe, who came out in support of the SUR, calling it a “cornerstone of food security and human health”’.

End the use of hazardous pesticides by 2035
‘Clear and measurable targets need to be set including for member states, to reduce Europe’s dependency on chemical pesticides. Over one million people in the EU call for an 80% gradual reduction of the use of synthetic pesticides by 2030, and a total phase out by 2035.’

Create pesticide-free areas and adequate buffer zones
‘Given the evidence on the threat of pesticides particularly for children, pesticide use should be ended especially in areas frequented by those most at risk. This includes residential areas, such as public parks and gardens, sports and recreational grounds, school grounds, children’s playgrounds, and around healthcare facilities. Pesticide-free buffer zones of up to 100 metres should be introduced.’



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Riya Patel
Riya Patel
7 months ago

Advocacy for safer practices is pivotal for a healthier future.

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