How the EU plans to make food production more environmentally friendly 

As part of its latest plan for improved sustainability and biodiversity, the EU has announced the latest updates of its Farm to Fork Strategy, which is central to the “European Green Deal”. 

The European Commission says that it wants to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030. It argues that this move would make the food industry more environmentally friendly and it would be a step forward in improving public health.  

However, rather than banning the use of chemical pesticides outright, the Commission says it would use other strategies to reach the 50% target, which would still be legally binding. 

As part of these changes, EU member states would need to submit regular progress reports. There will also be funding available to pay for any costs needed to meet the requirements. 

In addition to this, the plans include targets for mandatory nature restoration of forests and farmlands. Countries should aim to repair at least 20% of damaged ecosystems by 2030. 

According to Frans Timmermans, the Commissioner in charge of the bloc’s landmark Green Deal, the proposals would mean no more using chemical pesticides in some public areas. 

This would help to reverse the decline of pollinators, like bees, which are essential for increasing farming yields and restoring natural ecosystems. 

In a statement, he said: “By 2030 half of chemical pesticides should be replaced by alternatives, with practices like crop rotation and technologies like precision farming. We also propose to prohibit all pesticide use in sensitive areas like schools, hospitals, parks, and playgrounds.”

Some governments have opposed the proposals, as they have argued that the current food crisis makes this bad timing to introduce new regulations. 

Farmers’ unions have also urged that the EU supports farmers by providing safe and effective alternatives to chemical pesticides, rather than just focusing on stronger rules. 

The plans now need approval from the European Parliament and European Council before they can become law.

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