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Ready to discuss reduction of pesticide use, says health commissioner

pesticides in greenhouses
File photo

Commissioner for health and food safety, Stella Kyriakidou, said there is a need for EU member states to promptly agree on regulations for agricultural pesticide use. Speaking on Monday in the context of the EU agriculture and fisheries council in Brussels, the commissioner said realistic solutions must be found.

The proposals for pesticide regulation “are not ultimatums,” emphasised Kyriakidou.

“We are listening, we are ready to work together, to find compromises that can be implemented to […] help us achieve our ambitious goals,” she said, adding that the ultimate goal is to reduce pesticides in food, as this is what citizens want.

Kyriakidou was responding to concerns expressed by member states regarding the regulation proposal presented by the Commission in June, as well as thousands of comments submitted by stakeholders.

The drought in many parts of Europe this year highlighted the need for sustainable agriculture and food resilience and concerns about food security have been heightened by the impacts of the war in Ukraine.

However, Kyriakidou noted, the issues are much broader than either the effects of the war in Ukraine or pesticides, as food security is ongoingly threatened by climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the extinction of pollinators.

Offering assurances of the Commission’s commitment to support producers, Kyriakidou noted that a series of actions related to funding and promotion of alternative means of crop protection had been proposed.

The most challenging areas of the dialogue between member states and the Commission, Kyriakidou said, is the delineation of objectives and safeguarding of vulnerable regions.

The use of pesticides in Cyprus has doubled over the past ten years, though it has shown a slight decrease of two per cent since 2020. Farmers’ unions, consumer groups and environmentalists have raised the alarm over unregulated overuse of pesticides in vegetable and fruit production on the island and have condemned the failure of farmers to adhere to ministry of agriculture directives.

According to the 2017 EU Food Safety Authority report on pesticide residues in food, the exceedance rate in Cyprus was among the top three in the Europe, along with Greece and France.

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