News: Legislation speeds up implementation of EU actions to achieve sustainable use of pesticides

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[tweetmeme http://www.URL.com%5D Today the European Union published a corrigendum to Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides, bringing the implementation deadlines for aspects of this directive forward by a number of months.

This important Directive establishes a framework to achieve a sustainable use of pesticides by reducing the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and promoting the use of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.

Under this Directive the EU Member States shall adopt National Action Plans to set up their quantitative objectives, targets, measures and timetables to reduce risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and to encourage the development and introduction of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques in order to reduce dependency on the use of pesticides. These targets may cover different areas of concern, for example worker protection, protection of the environment, residues, use of specific techniques or use in specific crops.

Member States shall also ensure that all professional users, distributors and advisors have access to appropriate training by bodies designated by the competent authorities. This shall consist of both initial and additional training to acquire and update knowledge as appropriate.

In terms of the sale of pesticides, the Directive requires EU Member States to ensure that distributors have sufficient staff in their employment holding a competence certificate. Such persons shall be available at the time of sale to provide adequate information to customers as regards pesticide use, health and environmental risks and safety instructions to manage those risks for the products in question. Micro distributors selling only products for nonprofessional use may be exempted if they do not offer for sale pesticide formulations classified as toxic, very toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction.

Member States shall require distributors selling pesticides to non-professional users to provide general information regarding the risks for human health and the environment of pesticide use, in particular on hazards, exposure, proper storage, handling, application and safe disposal in accordance with Community legislation on waste, as well as regarding low-risk alternatives. Member States may require pesticide producers to provide such information.

In terms of providing information to the public, Member States shall take measures to inform the general public and to promote and facilitate information and awareness raising programmes and the availability of accurate and balanced information relating to pesticides for the general public, in particular regarding the risks and the potential acute and chronic effects for human health, non-target organisms and the environment arising from their use, and the use of non-chemical alternatives.  They shall also put in place systems for gathering information on pesticide acute poisoning incidents, as well as chronic poisoning developments where available, among groups that may be exposed regularly to pesticides such as operators, agricultural workers or persons living close to pesticide application areas.

A key element of this Directive is the blanket prohibition of aerial spraying, except under very specific conditions.

In terms of protecting Europe’s waters, Member States shall ensure that appropriate measures to protect the aquatic environment and drinking water supplies from the impact of pesticides are adopted, including:

(a) giving preference to pesticides that are not classified as dangerous for the aquatic environment;

(b) giving preference to the most efficient application techniques such as the use of low-drift pesticide application equipment especially in vertical crops such as hops and those found in orchards and vineyards;

(c) use of mitigation measures which minimise the risk of offsite pollution caused by spray drift, drain-flow and run-off.  These shall include the establishment of appropriately-sized buffer zones for the protection of non-target aquatic organisms and safeguard zones for surface and groundwater used for the abstraction of drinking water, where pesticides must not be used or stored;

(d) reducing as far as possible or eliminating applications on or along roads, railway lines, very permeable surfaces or other infrastructure close to surface water or groundwater or on sealed surfaces with a high risk of run-off into surface water or sewage systems.

In terms of protecting biodiversity, Member States shall, having due regard for the necessary hygiene and public health requirements and biodiversity, or the results of relevant risk assessments, ensure that the use of pesticides is minimised or prohibited in certain specific areas. Appropriate risk management measures shall be taken and the use of low-risk plant protection products.

Member States shall take all necessary measures to promote low pesticide-input pest management, giving wherever possible priority to non-chemical methods, so that professional users of pesticides switch to practices and products with the lowest risk to human health and the environment among those available for the same pest problem. Low pesticide-input pest management includes integrated pest management as well as organic farming.

The full text of the Directive may be accessed from the Official Journal by clicking here.

The full text of the new Corrigendum to the Directive may be accessed from the Official Journal by clicking here.

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