“Pesticide Check Up” Campaign : 10 Key Facts on Pesticides

The Good Food Good Farming coalition is launching the “Pesticide Check Up” campaign, to raise awareness about the risks and dangers of pesticides and to put pressure on European policy makers to commit to a drastic reduction of pesticides. As pesticides are high on Europe’s agenda this year, it is time to recall the facts on these toxic chemicals.

On May 10, the Good Food Good Farming coalition, of which Slow Food is an active member, launched the “Pesticide Check-Up” campaign with a two-fold objective:

  • raise awareness about the risks and dangers of using pesticides in agriculture,
  • put pressure on EU decision makers to guarantee a drastic reduction of pesticide use in the European Union, and ensure support to farmers in their uptake of agro-ecological farming methods.

With this campaign, we invite all European citizens to get their hair tested for 30 different pesticide substances. Thanks to this citizens-science approach we want to show EU decision-makers the facts behind our main demand: a binding regulation for an ambitious pesticide reduction.

Pesticides are high on Europe’s agenda this year. The European Commission is expected to publish its proposal for a new pesticide regulation in June, while the EU permit for glyphosate (the most used herbicide in the world) will expire in December 2022, and potentially be renewed.

Between 2011 & 2020, sales of pesticides in the EU remained stable, amounting to 346,000 tons in 2020.

The European Commission must guarantee a drastic reduction of the European dependency on pesticide. The new regulation should put into practice the objectives of the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy with which the European Union committed to reduce by 50% the overall use and risk of all chemical pesticides and of more hazardous pesticides by 2030, including glyphosate.

Since pesticides are now a hot topic in the EU bubble, we thought it was a good opportunity to recall the facts on the risks and dangers of chemical pesticides.

  1. Our current agricultural model that heavily relies on the excessive use of pesticides is dangerous to human health and the environment

  2. Pesticide use has failed to help eradicate world hunger and claims that say pesticides are vital for food security are misleading, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  

  3. Chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, respiratory problems, hormone disruption and developmental disorders, among others. Farmers, agricultural workers and their families, residents in agricultural zones,  pregnant women and new-born babies are most at risk.  

  4. Pesticides are everywhere: pesticides residues have been detected in many places including people’s bedrooms and children’s playgrounds

  5. Pesticides have a major impact on natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Their use has been linked to the collapse of bee colonies and pollinators, bird populations and insects.  

  6. Pesticides remain in our environment: many synthetic pesticides which have been banned for decades because of their toxicity are still detected in waterways, groundwater, soils, and natural ecosystems. 

  7. The use of pesticides is increasing worldwide, although their health and ecological consequences have been long known. Since the 1990s, pesticide use has increased globally by more than 50%

  8. The pesticide business rests in the hands of a concentrated industry. In 2018, only 4 multinational agro-chemical companies (Syngenta/ChemChina, Bayer, Corteva, BASF) owned 70% of the global pesticide market. 

  9. Pesticides are a harmful business: every year, around 385 million unintentional, acute pesticide poisonings are reported, leading to approximately 11,000 deaths per year. Farmers and farm workers, particularly in the Global South, are the most affected.  

  10. The pesticide trade applies a double standard: many toxic pesticides that are banned in Europe because of health related or ecological reasons are still produced and exported to non-EU countries with weaker health and environmental laws, causing dramatic impacts for human health and the environment.

The facts speak for themselves: pesticides are highly dangerous. EU politicians have to deliver policies to drastically reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture to guarantee the health of people, nature and soils while ensuring the survival of insects, especially pollinators that are essential to our food system. In accordance with the successful European Citizens Initiative “Save bees and farmers” signed by 1.2 million EU citizens, we demand the gradual reduction of pesticides by 80% in EU agriculture.



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