For more than two years, the Manfred Hermsen Foundation intensively promoted the participation of initiatives and citizens in the ECI who wanted to give nature a voice in Europe. With the ECI now declared valid*, we hope to influence decisions on pesticide approvals in favour of organic farming.
This success marks a very clear and loud wish by EU citizens to strongly reduce pesticide use. The initiative’s 1,1 million citizens demand a phase out of synthetic pesticides and a restoration of nature in agricultural areas.
The Save Bees and Farmers ECI is asking for:
● A phasing out of 80% of the use of synthetic pesticides by 2030 and 100% by 2035
● A restoration of biodiversity on agricultural land
● Financial support for farmers to transition towards agroecological practices
The organizers of the ECI took up the invitation of the EU Commission and explained the concern of the initiative to Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Kyriakides on 25.11.2022. On 24.01.2023, a hearing in the European Parliament took place to exchange with MEPs about the ECI’s demands.
In the Beginning of April, the European Commission presented their formal reply to the 1,1 million citizens who signed the European Citizens' Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers”. They welcome the initiative as a clear sign of broad public support for action for pollinators, biodiversity and sustainable farming. They urge the European Parliament and the Council to find swift and ambitious agreements on the legislative proposals to reduce pesticides and restore biodiversity. The organisers of the ECI stress the urgency and importance of pesticide reduction to protect people's health, biodiversity and sustainable food production. The widespread and negative effects of synthetic pesticides become clearer with every study published. We urge for more ambition by EU Parliament and Member States. We encourage involvement of concerned citizens and scientists in the process till the goals are achieved.
We are now at Peak Pesticide, the world has never before used such a quantity of pesticides. The chemical farming model comes with a high price for society. We find a sharp decline in insect and bird populations in many areas. Biodiversity is collapsing, our soils are depleted, water is contaminated, farmers are being poisoned, and our health is at risk from pesticide residues in our foods. Our landscape has become toxic due to expanding industrial monocultures. Moreover, intensive agriculture has led to ever-decreasing crop yields in recent years.
The loud voice of civil society marks the End of an era where decisions about our environment at EU and national level were dominated by the producers of chemicals. Since the sixties, the Green Revolution has pushed farmers to use patented seeds, high doses of artificial fertilisers and an ever-increasing amount of synthetic pesticides. These inputs make intensive farming completely dependent on agrochemicals and fossil fuels. Farmers do the work, but it is the traders and industry as well as their shareholders that reap the profits.
The organisers behind this ECI are asking for a change: farmers deserve a decent income with fair prices and a healthy future for their farm and family!
At a very important moment in time: Currently, the EU institutions are discussing a new pesticide reduction law** that will regulate pesticide use for many years to come. The outcome will have huge impacts on nature and health in Europe.
The pesticide lobby fears a drop in income and their allies are raising loud protests in many countries.
We urgently need a change in paradigm to stop this war against nature and the system of death. We want to bring life, flowers and insects back to the fields. The future of farming is in working with nature, not destroying it.
Only nature-friendly farming will give us food security. The future of our food depends on healthy soils that feed healthy plants and resist droughts.
Preserving biodiversity is the only option to ensure long-term food production. The science is clear: continued use of artificial fertiliser and pesticides will lead to dead soils and a total collapse of pollination and food production. The path towards a lasting food security and a future for our children, grandchildren and the generations to come is a world where we live in balance with our environment, without poisoning it.
*Up to now, 94 ECIs have been launched and only 7 succeeded to collect 1 million validated signatures.
**On 22 June 2022, the European Commission proposed a new Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, aiming at reducing the use and risks of pesticides by 50% until 2030. This proposal will now be discussed in the European Parliament and the European Council to agree on a final regulation in the coming year.