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EU presents 'Green Deal' farming plan to half pesticide use

May 20, 2020

The European Commission has presented ambitious agricultural and biodiversity plans which would improve animal welfare and improve fertilizers. Opponents say the policy is too "hurried" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Asparagus farm in Germany
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler

The European Commission presented its plans for a more environmentally-friendly European Union agriculture and biodiversity policy on Wednesday. The new plans are part of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's flagship European Green Deal policy.

The Commission, the EU's executive, presented a "farm to fork" strategy to reduce the use of pesticides and antibiotics and improve fertilizers. Animal welfare is also to be improved and the fishing industry to be made more sustainable.

The strategy, made up of 27 key actions, aims "to reconcile our food systems with our planet's health, to ensure food security and meet the aspirations of Europeans for healthy, equitable and eco-friendly food," EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.

She wrote on Twitter that the policy aimed to reduce pesticide use by 50%, reduce food waste and fraud and protect animals.

Coronavirus casts doubt

The new agricultural policy has faced opposition from the center-right European People's Party (EPP), the largest in the EU legislature, who say the timing is bad for EU farmers.

"We regret that the European Commission is hurrying its 'farm to fork' strategy now when farmers all over Europe are facing huge insecurity over their future," EPP agriculture spokesman Herbert Dorfmann.

European Green Deal policies have taken a back seat as the bloc grapples with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Experts are expecting unprecedented levels of food waste this year as farms lack sufficient workers to complete harvests.

But the Greens welcomed the moved, calling for the policy to be incorporated fully into EU policy.

The European Green Deal aims to overhaul the EU's economy and prioritise green investments by 2050.

ed/aw (dpa, epd)