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Chemicals | 6th October 2021

Time to modernise the European data on chemicals used in agriculture
Chemicals
Agriculture
Protecting species
EU
Pollution
Wildlife & habitats

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Time to modernise the European data on chemicals used in agriculture

ClientEarth, and 20 environmental and health organisations across Europe as well as the European organisation representing the organic food chain business IFOAM Organics Europe, make the following recommendations to the Members of the AGRI committee regarding the Commission’s proposal for a regulation on statistics on agricultural input and output (SAIO) (the Proposal).

We identify in this paper problematic amendments tabled (AM) that would need to be rejected and the positive amendments (AM) to be supported so that the new regulation can deliver on the pressing need to collect and publish data on the sale and use of chemicals input in agriculture including data on pesticides, biocides, fertilisers and veterinary medicinal products.

The EU is very much lagging behind when it comes to knowing which pesticides and other chemicals are used in agriculture, in which quantities, where and how. California, for example, has put in place a public database which is far more precise and advanced than what is available on Eurostat’s website.

In the EU, currently, no one has a comprehensive and precise picture of the extent to which people and the environment are actually exposed to these chemicals.

This is a problem for several reasons. First, such lack of data creates barriers for public authorities to assess the effectiveness of past decisions to protect human health and the environment, and to take informed decisions for the future. It therefore limits their ability to prevent harm to farmers, residents and other people exposed as well as to the environment.

Then this lack of public data impacts public trust in governments and in the farming sector, as recently highlighted during the EU Pollinator Week.

Indeed, the current data gaps prevent any meaningful monitoring of progress accomplished by farmers to reduce their reliance on chemicals input, and thus prevents the recognition and reward of their efforts.

This problematic state of play is due to the current weak regulation on pesticides statistics (Regulation (EC) No 1185/2009) that the Commission is now proposing to revise. To truly empower informed decisions and rebuild trust, the new regulation for the collection and publication of data on chemicals input needs to ensure that:
I. All relevant data is collected;
II. The system is efficient - which requires transparency and relying on existing records; and
III. The data is collected and published without delay.

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