1 million EU citizens call for the end of the pesticides era 

While signatures are still flowing in on the last day to support the Save Bees and Farmers1 European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), their supporters feel they are close to a historic success. If this ECI is validated by the European Commission, both the European Commission and the European Parliament will have to reply to citizens’ demands for a synthetic pesticide-free and bee-friendly agriculture.

The organizations behind this ECI are anxious to find out the outcome of a 2-year long campaign that led to collecting over 1 million signatures across the EU. The Save Bees and Farmers ECI asks for 1) a reduction of 80% in the use of synthetic pesticides by 2030 and 100% by 2035 in the EU, 2) measures to restore biodiversity on agricultural land and 3) massive support to farmers to transition towards agroecology.

An ECI is accepted by the European Commission if it reaches over 1 million validated signatures, while experience shows that the invalidity rate is 10-15%. The organizers consider the ECI will be successful if it reaches a minimum of 1.15 million signatures, taking into account the thousands of paper signatures that still need to be counted and included in the final calculation.

Sonia Conchon, from the Save Bees and Farmers office says: “The Covid situation has made this campaign very difficult due to the lack of visibility as there were no public events during most of the campaign. Reaching the 1 million finish line therefore truly reflects the determination of citizens”.

This ECI sends a clear message to the EU: European citizens support the pesticide reduction goal of the European Green Deal but want to see a plan to fully phase out the use of synthetic pesticides. To achieve this goal in 15 years, the EU must properly support farmers, technically and financially, to transition towards agroecology.

Marta Messa, director of Slow Food Europe said: “It’s time the EU and its member states take serious action to drive the transformation of our food system towards one that protects people, the environment and works with farmers. We need binding targets, and Slow Food will keep bringing the examples of farmers who day in and day out farm without pesticides, and who can give clear pointers for a broader transition towards agroecology.”

Up to now, only 6 of the 108 launched ECIs have been successfully validated by the European Commission (<6%). Successful ECIs impose for the European Commission to analyse and answer citizens’ demands while the European Parliament will receive the 7 members of the Citizens Committee in a hearing and have the possibility to write and vote on a resolution based on the citizens’ demands.

Press contact: Helmut Burtscher-Schaden, [email protected], +43 699 142 000 34


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