European Commission adopts stringent residue limits for pesticides to protect pollinators
02 February 2023
The European Commission adopted new rules that aim to lower the Maximum Residues Levels (MRLs) of the pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam in food.
The European Court of Justice has ruled recently that EU countries should no longer be allowed temporary exemptions for banned, bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. Assessments by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have shown that the two neonicotinoid pesticides pose a high risk to bees and contribute to the global decline of pollinators. For this reason, their outdoor use has already been banned in the EU in 2018. The new rules will lower existing MRLs for these substances to the lowest level that can be measured with the latest technologies. They will apply to all products produced in the EU, but also to imported food and feed products.
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides said: “When it comes to the use and risk of pesticides, we have always been clear about our commitment to protect the health of our citizens and environment. Today’s actions, also affecting imported food, build on our decision in 2018 to ban outdoor use for these two neonicotinoids within the EU, as for the first time, pesticide maximum residue levels will be lowered to address pollinator decline and protect our environment. We remain steadfast in our commitment in the Farm to Fork strategy’s ambitions of moving towards sustainable food systems and protecting pollinators”.
The Regulation puts into practice the Commission’s goals, announced in the Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy, to take into account environmental aspects when assessing requests for import tolerances for pesticide substances no longer approved in the EU, while respecting WTO standards and obligations. The measures will apply to imported products as of 2026, to give time for third countries to comply with the new rules.
SAFE considers that a transition towards sustainable food systems is urgently needed to tackle climate change, stop biodiversity collapse and protect human health. SAFE has notably called for an integrated food policy and supported reforms towards a more sustainable agriculture, by promoting practices such as permaculture and regenerative agriculture.