Let’s mobilize for a phase out of pesticides in Europe!

Last year, more than one million citizens signed the European Citizen Initiative Save Bees and Farmers asking for a drastic cut in synthetic pesticide use. Now is the chance for the EU to deliver!

The EU pesticide regulation is a pivotal step in getting binding targets for pesticide reduction. Decision makers across Europe are discussing this new law as we speak, and many of them are trying to derail it, putting the interests of the chemical industry above the interests of citizens, farmers and biodiversity!

We are now at the last steps of the legislative process: all Members of the European Parliament will gather in Strasbourg on November 20-23 2023 to vote on the proposal. Agriculture, Environment and Health ministers from the various Member States will be discussing the text at the EU Council level. They should come to a decision by the end of the year and your voice is crucial in helping push for an ambitious EU Pesticide Law.

Participate in our “Say Goodbye to Toxics!” action by taking a minute to send an email which will land directly in your political representatives’ mailbox.

Scroll down for more information on how to use the widget. 


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  • Enter your name, surname and email address
  • The subject of the email and the body text are filled in automatically with our suggestions. If you wish to have a different text, either refresh the page (a new automatic subject line and body text will appear). But you can also write your own text!
  • Tell us if you wish to receive more information on this campaign and on other advocacy opportunities from Slow Food and/or by the Save Bees and Farmers coalition by ticking the “yes” or “no” box.
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In 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a new EU pesticide regulation (the Sustainable Use of Pesticide Regulation), setting the binding objective of 50% reduction of chemical pesticides by 2030, among other essential rules like implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

But this very important regulation has been met with fierce resistance from the agro-industry and their political allies in the European Parliament and Member States. Now that the European Commission’s proposal is out, it is the European Parliament’s turn to form their positions on it and agree on the final legislation. Then, it will be discussed in national parliaments and by the EU Council (composed of national governments).

In October 2023, a public opinion poll showed that as many as three-quarters of EU citizens (75.9%) worry about how the use of pesticides in farming and food production is affecting their health and the health of their families. Citizens would like stricter regulations around the use of pesticides; EU policymakers should take note of this, and not cave in to pressure to dilute draft pesticide reduction legislation currently being discussed by EU policymakers. Read more about the results of the poll in our article here.

The new EU pesticide regulation is crucial to restoring biodiversity and protecting bees and pollinators. Most of them are not selective and don’t only eliminate pests or weeds, but many other essential organisms. And not only in the field, as pesticide residuals can be found hundreds of km away from where they are applied.

Citizen involvement is crucial to bring about political change and it works! See what happened with the EU Nature Restoration Law, which was adopted thanks to pressure/mobilisations from citizens. National and EU institutions need to hear our voices.

If you’re interested to know more about pesticides and their harm, as well as about how corporations greenwash and influence policy for their profit, we encourage you to listen to the last episodes of our podcast series “Slow Food Goes Brussels”. 


If you want to dive deeper into this topic, read our FAQ!

  • What are the objectives of the action?

Scientific recommendations to move to sustainable food production systems have been available for a long time but went largely unheard and/or unimplemented. The ECI Save the Bees and Farmers initiative brought this issue to the public debate and showed that farmers, citizens and scientists call for binding and result-driven measures that support farmers and restore biodiversity.With this action, we want to put pressure on  key policymakers into taking bold measures to reach the following objectives: phasing out pesticide use, restoring nature, and supporting producers in the transition to agroecology.

  • What can Ministers and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) do?

When the European Commission makes proposals for new EU legislation, Member States and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have the power to reject or change it. Once everyone agrees on a final text, it is adopted and must be applied  in all countries of the European Union, where it will be incorporated into national law. 

If a wide group of ministers and MEPs calls for an ambitious pesticide regulation, it is likely the legislation resulting from this political process will be closer to the demands of our ECI Save Bees and Farmers. This is why we must convince as many political leaders are possible !

Currently, the industrial agrifood system does not allow for effective and sustainable food production in the long term, while damaging biodiversity and all ecosystems it so heavily relies upon. Farmers and farm workers are pesticides’ first victims which threaten their health, cause the loss of biodiversity and landscape attractiveness on their farm, decrease soil health, poison pollinators and water quality, increase pest resistance and erosion. 

Using pesticides only accelerates the multiple crises we are experiencing: climate emergency, biodiversity collapse, and social and public health crises. We need a transition away from this self-destructive agroindustrial model.

Member States should support farmers via advisory services to increase the application of non-chemical alternatives to pesticides, with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as the base of any food production system (agronomic measures, and mechanical, physical, biological control), as part of an integral strategy moving towards sustainable agroecological food production systems. The transition towards a pesticide-free agriculture implies a package of measures. In order to boost this transition, subsidies in agriculture should be linked to IPM and measurable pesticide use reduction.

Firstly, very few studies have been conducted to identify and develop testing methods for new GMOs and to look at potential risks.Without proper risk assessment new GMOs should not be introduced into agrological systems. Genetic uniformity leads to low crop diversity, which is one of the main drivers of pesticide use, especially in cloned crops, which  threatens food security. A high diversity of locally adjusted and robust varieties is needed to cope with the effects of climate change and invasive species, something that monocultures cannot offer. 

Secondly, almost 80% of the EU pesticide use comprises herbicide and fungicide use, and there are currently no genetically engineered solutions available (or in development) that could substantially reduce such usage. According to Foodwatch, genetically modified crops suitable to achieve the “Farm to Fork” objectives are not available and will not be within the next 10-15 years. 

Thirdly, 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. They also hold 60% of the global seed market, including GMO and new GMO seeds. This strategy has enabled them to reach a high level profitability, while stripping many farmers from their food sovereignty. If new GMOs were to be widely used in agriculture, we would end up with higher crop genetic uniformity causing higher pesticide use, a business model which would play into the hands of the above mentioned companies, since they sell both seeds and pesticides.

If the use of pesticides is reduced, their negative effects will also disappear. Farmers will be able to escape from the debt spiral to which they are subjected under the current agro-industrial regime. Through agroecological systems, they will be able to reduce the consumption of inputs and thus the costs of their production, improving their economy, which will give a boost to rural areas. In addition, their health and their families’ and neighbors’ will improve by reducing contact with substances that can cause chronic diseases or neurological disorders.

Consequently, pesticide reduction will help facilitate rural resettlement. Fewer pesticides in the air, and in surrounding water sources and soil means a better quality of life for all citizens living in these areas –one of the population groups most affected through their continued exposure to pesticides are rural inhabitants–. Particularly noteworthy is also the improved attractiveness of rural areas for (future) parents that significant pesticide reductions entail.

On the other hand, monotone ‘green deserts’ of monoculture and high-input agriculture have changed European rural areas drastically, leading to (more) silent springs and the loss of biodiversity and natural heritage. Biodiversity and landscape attractiveness are important prerequisites for life quality. The positive health impact of nature is well known, as is the importance of high quality green areas nearby citizens’ homes. Without robust green infrastructure, abundant insect life, yellowhammer’s tunes and skylarks songs, rural areas lose their color, ‘soundtrack’ and attractiveness. 

Through a pesticide phase out plan, nature will flourish and thrive again. Less agrochemicals on the fields means more insects and pollinators, which will help farmers’ harvests at the same time. Some of these insects are natural enemies, essential for biological pest control; for example, ladybugs are key to control aphid populations. In addition, more insects will attract more birds to farmland, reversing the worrying trend of a 50% decline in bird populations in recent years due to industrial farming.

Thus, the reduction of pesticides can lead to a resurgence of the rich biodiversity of rural areas. A good thing in itself, but one that would also benefit rural dwellers. Richer biodiversity can attract economic and labour opportunities to depopulated areas. Biodiversity tourism, like birdwatching, is a growing market that brings higher economic benefits than traditional tourism, and it attracts millions of people every year to rural areas. Also farmers report beneficial impacts and increased joy when restoring biodiversity on their farmlands, providing more attractive working and living conditions.