JOINT LETTER: European Green Deal needs to cut pesticides and switch to agroecology

Brussels, 31 March 2020

To: Executive Vice President Timmermans
Cc: Commissioners Kyriakides, Wojciechowski and Sinkevičius

We are writing to you as supporters of the European Citizens Initiative Save Bees and Farmers which has been already supported by over a quarter of a million EU citizens.

The significant decline of bees and pollinators in Europe and worldwide, together with the wider collapse of biodiversity we are currently witnessing has rightly raised alarm in the scientific community and general public. Experts have declared that “business as usual” cannot remain an option. (12It is now finally widely accepted that our food production model is a major driver of this ecology collapse, largely because of the massive use of synthetic pesticides it relies upon.

Furthermore, synthetic pesticides have important consequences on human health, linked to llness among rural communities as well as among consumers via pesticide residues that are present in food, as well as pesticide drift in the air and runoff in soil and groundwater. Among others, exposure to pesticides is linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and reproductive impairments.

A third major consequence of industrial agriculture is the sharp decline in social and economic diversity amongst farmers and rural communities. Over the past 10 years, a farm has disappeared in the EU on average every 3 minutes. This is leading to depleted rural areas and a huge loss of resilience, valuable knowledge and traditions.

The European Union has supported these phenomena with public money for decades through its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as well as with regulations, trade agreements and a research policy favoring industrial agriculture and food production. Our coalition now asks for the European Commission and the Member States to make a fundamental change in how the aforementioned instruments are used.

These issues are at the core of why the European Commission is developing the Farm to Fork and accompanying Biodiversity Strategies. Indeed, a way out exists to transform our model of chemical-intensive agriculture to a model that is more knowledge-intensive and that is based on working with nature rather than against it: this alternative has been developed by organic agriculture as well as many other farmers, based on agroecological principles.

Scientific research shows that feeding the EU and the world based on synthetic pesticide-free agriculture is possible (34) it is a political choice as non-chemical alternatives to pesticides already exist. Furthermore, field evidence shows that implementing agroecology allows farmers to increase their profits (5). We are therefore calling on you to ensure the demands of Save Bees and Farmers are embedded in these forthcoming strategies.
In particular, they must without compromise:

  1. start the phase-out of synthetic pesticides from EU agriculture, by setting a target to cut use by 80% by 2030 and a phase out by 2035.
  2. set ambitious targets to restore biodiversity, especially in agricultural areas. Agriculture and biodiversity are not mutually exclusive, but must benefit each other.
  3. support farmers in the transition towards a nature-friendly agriculture. CAP reform proposals must be strongly upgraded to support farmers financially and technically by prioritizing small scale, diverse and sustainable farming based on agroecology.

We look forward to the publication of ambitious and credible Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies that are fit for purpose, lead us away from the catastrophe we are facing, and meet the expectations of citizens and farmers. Time is running out for both nature and small-scale farming and we call on these to be central to your efforts.

1 Climate change and land. IPCC special report. 2019.
2 Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services. IPBES. 2019
3 Strategies for feeding the world more sustainably with organic agriculture. Muller A et al. Nat Commun. 2017.
4 An agroecological Europe in 2050: multifunctional agriculture for healthy eating. Findings from the Ten Years for Agroecology (TYFA) modelling exercise. IDDRI edition. 2018
5 The economic potential of agroecology: Empirical evidence from Europe. Van der Ploeg et al. Journal of rural studies. 2019

Yours sincerely,

Amigos de la Tierra España; Andrés Muñoz, Food Sovereignty Campaigner
ANGiV Sicilia; Anna Spitaleri, President
APIMONDIA Bee Health Commission; Fani Hatjina, President of Bee Health Commission
Apis Domus; Andreia Valente, CEO
Apiservices; Gilles Ratia, President
Armenian women for health and healthy environment; Elena Manvelyan, President
ASEED Europe; Tjerk Dalhuisen, Foundation Board
Aurelia Stiftung; Thomas Radetzi, CEO & Chairman
Austrian League for Nature Conservation (ÖNB); Roman Türk, President
Bee Foundation; Sonne Copijn, President
BeeLife; Francesco Panella, President
Bündnis für eine enkeltaugliche Landwirtschaft e.V.; Johanna Bär, Managing Director
Bürgerinitiative Landwende e.V.; Johannes Heimrath, President
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); David Azoulay, Director of Environmental
Health Program
Comitato Marcia Stop Pesticidi TV/BL; Garbelotto Renato, Mario Azzalini, Lisa Trinca, Presidents
Compassion in World Farming; Olga Kikou, Head of EU office
Corporate Europe Observatory; Nina Holland, Researcher
Deutscher Naturschutzring; Ilka Dege, Coordinator for Biodiversity
Dutch Bee Conservation; Maaike Molenaar, Chairman
Earth Thrive; Zoe Lujic, Chief Executive
ECI “Save Bees and Farmers”; Sandra Horst,
Eco Hvar (Croatia); Vivian Grisogono, President
ECOCITY; Eri Bizani, Board Member, Director of Network Relations
Ecologistas en Acción España; Koldo Hernández, Chemical Policy Officer
ELIANT Alliance; Susanna Küffer Heer, Foundation Board
EPBA, European Professional Beekeepers Association; Frank Alétru, President
Europe and We, Bulgaria; Adrian Velikov, Chairperson
European Environmental Bureau (EEB); Jeremy Wates, Secretary General
Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations; Mary Montaut, Editor
Fédération SEPANSO Aquitaine; Georges Cingal, Secrétaire Général
FODESAM; Carlos de Prada, President
Fondazione Italiana per la Ricerca in Agricoltura Biologica e Biodinamica (FIRAB); Luca Colombo,
Secretary General
France Nature Environnement; Michel Dubromel, President
Friends of the Earth Cyprus; Anastasia Korae, President
Friends of the Earth Europe; Adrian Bebb, Senior Campaigner
Friends of the Earth Malta; Martin Galea De Giovanni, Director
Fundación Alborada; Alejandra Salas, director
Fundación Amigos de las Abejas; Luis Pérez Ventosa, President
Générations Futures; François Veillerette, Director
GLOBAL 2000 – Friends of the Earth Austria; Helmut Burtscher-Schaden, Chairperson
GMWatch; Claire Robinson, Editor
Greenpeace; Magda Stoczkiewicz, Deputy Director, Greenpeace European Unit
Grup de Consum Eco La Panera; Daniel Méndez, President
Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL); Natacha Cingotti, Senior Policy Officer, Health and
Health and Environment Justice Support (HEJSupport); Alexandra Caterbow, Co-Director
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe; Dorota Napierska, Chemicals Policy & Projects Officer
Hogar sin Tóxicos; Carlos de Prada, director
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) EU group; Eduardo Cuoco,
Justice Pesticides; Arnaud Apoteker, Délégué Général
Legambiente; Angelo Gentili, Agriculture responsible
Liga para a Protecção da Natureza; Ana Marta Paz, Board member
Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung; Stefanie Hermsen, Executive Board member
Melliferopolis; Ulla Taipale, Researcher
Mouvement Ecologique; Blanche Weber, President
NAJU (Naturschutzjugend im NABU); Lukas Menzel, Chief Executive
Nature & Progrès; Marc Fichers, Secretary general
Navdanya International; Ruchi Shroff, Executive Director
No Pesticidi Azzano Decimo; Andrea Mulas and Claudia Pitton, Founders
NVLV (Netwerk Vitale Landbouw en Voeding); Dirk Hart, Secretary/Treasurer
Österreichischer Erwerbsimkerbund; DI Dr. Stefan Mandl, President
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe; Martin Dermine, Health and Environment Policy Officer
Pesticide Action Network UK; Nick Mole, Policy Officer
Pestizid Aktions-Netzwerk e.V. (PAN Germany); Gabriela Strobel, Speaker of the Board
Plataforma Transgénicos Fora; Graça Passos, Board member
POLLINIS; Nicolas Laarman, Director
Ramazzini Institute, Bologna, Italy; Fiorella Belpoggi, Scientific Director
Réseau Environnement Santé; André Cicolella, President
ROMAPIS-The Federation of the Romanian Beekeeping Associations; Constantin Dobrescu, VicePresident
Slovak Beekeepers Association; Robert Chlebo, Vice-president
Slow Food Europe; Marta Messa, Director of Slow Food Europe
Slow Food Germany: Sharon Sheets, Press and Communications Officer
Slow Food Italy; Francesco Sottile, Member of Slow Food Italy Executive Committee
Sociedade Portuguesa de Entomologia (SPEN); Carla Rego, Vice-President
Syndicat national d’Apiculture; Frank Alétru, President
The Cancer Prevention & Education Society; Jamie Page, Chief Executive
The Pollinators; Tom van de Beek, Founder
Tilt! Changemaking Network; Teo Comet, Tilt Coordinator
Umweltinstitut München; Fabian Holzheid, Political Director
Union nationale de l’apiculture française – UNAF; Gilles Lanio, President
Velt Belgium; Jan Vannoppen, Director
Via Pontica Foundation; Ina Agafonova, Chairperson of the Managing Board
WECF – Women Engage for a Common Future; Annemarie Mohr, Director of the German Office
WeMove Europe; Laura Sullivan, Director
WildBee.ch; Deborah Millett, President
WWF Italia; Isabella Pratesi, Conservation Director
WWF Spain; Celsa Peiteado, Head of Agriculture and Food Programme
Zemljane staze / Earth Trek; Natalija Svrtan, President
ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável; Francisco Ferreira, President of the Board
Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft; Benedikt Haerlin, Office Manager (Berlin)

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