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EU drops plan to halve pesticide use after farmer protests

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she will withdraw a plan to halve the use of pesticides because it became a “symbol of polarization” following protests by farmers across Europe, according to Bloomberg.

The European Union’s executive arm in June 2022 had proposed a regulation to slash pesticide use by 2030 by 50% as part of a plan to make farming more sustainable, but the European Parliament voted it down. Fears over falling crop yields and doubts over the ability of farmers to find substitutes and meet targets outweighed concerns about the environmental impact of pesticides.

“Only if we achieve our climate and environmental goals together, will farmers be able to continue to make a living,” von der Leyen said Tuesday. 

The decision followed a wave of protests by farmers in France, Brussels and across Europe, with farmer arguing against proposed EU regulations and plans to cut subsidies.

Last week, the EU also delayed plans to require farmers to reserve more of their land fallow to improve biodiversity.

The decision to withdraw the pesticides plan is another example of the EU backtracking on legislation aimed at greening the bloc’s economy. The EU had to settle for a watered-down deal on a nature restoration law to return at least 20% of the bloc’s land and sea back to its original state.

Von der Leyen said the Commission may introduce a new, more mature proposal on pesticides with more stakeholder involvement, insisting that the discussion over reduced the use of the chemicals will continue.