Belgium: The Belgian Federal Government calculated that to achieve EU-level objectives of a 50% reduction in the use of chemical pesticides by 2030, Belgium would need to cut its own pesticide consumption by 58%.
According to recent research by the Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN), Belgium now has the greatest proportion of fruit and vegetables that are contaminated with harmful pesticides, some of which are linked to a number of chronic conditions. As a result, Wallonia’s groundwater sources are severely contaminated by the chemicals, which eventually make their way into the region’s drinking water.
Belgium will need to reduce its usage of these chemicals by 58% over the course of the following eight years in order to prevent contamination of the environment. Despite having some of the most pesticide-contaminated foods in Europe, Belgium’s aims are much less extreme than those of other EU countries.
According to a draft of the commission’s national pesticide reduction objectives seen by Politico, Italy must cut its own pesticide use by 62%, Germany by 55%, Spain by 54%, and France by 54%.
Politico reports that EU officials are already preparing for a backlash from farmers and national governments over the ambitious binding objectives, which result in significant changes to how we produce food in Europe.
Some pharmaceutical firms, including the German giant Bayer, have lobbied against the move away from pesticides, claiming that chemicals like glyphosate are “safe” and that there is “no basis for worry about their usage” when appropriately handled.
European politicians are still negotiating the proposed rule that would reduce Europe’s usage of pesticides. Given that the ideas have already drawn harsh criticism from the EU Member States, these talks are likely to go a while.
The targets have also drawn suspicion and scorn in Belgium. Federal Environment Minister Zakia Khattabi said that the policy did not follow government agreements, and Federal Agriculture Minister David Clarinval earlier voiced his concerns about the measures.