Ahead of a meeting of agricultural ministers, Green MEPs have written to the Agricultural commissioner and ministers urging them to close a loophole that permits the use of pesticides on so called Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). These are areas of land set aside for agricultural practices that are beneficial for the climate and the environment and aim to boost biodiversity. Six types of land make up EFAs: fallow land, buffer strips, field margins, catch crops, green cover and nitrogen-fixing crops.

Keith Taylor MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s environment committee, said:

“Permitting the use of pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas is totally inconsistent with greening agricultural policy. Pesticides do not help to increase biodiversity, they limit it. It’s time to close the loophole that allows toxic chemicals to be sprayed on these areas. Pesticides kill a wide range of bacteria, fungi and invertebrates – not just the species targetted – so they have no place in areas that are set aside to improve biodiversity.”

Molly, who sits on the Agricultural Committee in the European Parliament and is Green Party speaker on EU relations, said:

“Whether inside or outside the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), farming needs to take a giant leap forwards on more ecologically sensitive practices. Farming can and should play a key role in supporting and bolstering natural processes such as pollination and water and nutrient cycling while a focus on soil health can ensure farming plays an important role in helping to stabilize our climate through carbon capture.”

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London said:

Resilient and robust agro-ecosystems are essential to withstand climate change and other environmental impacts. The benefits of restricting pesticides and so boosting Ecological Focus Areas can be seen not only on the farms in question but across whole landscapes, with improvements to entire rural communities and indeed the whole of society.”

The three MEPs recently made a written submission to the Commons inquiry on The Future of the Natural Environment, expressing their concerns about the future of farming support following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. They are also supporting a new European Citizens’ Initiative, People4Soil, which aims to get over a million people to sign a petition to put pressure on EU institutions to adopt specific legislation on soil protection.

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