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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pesticides and air quality fights in EU

Pesticides: groups raise pressure ahead of EP vote

Industry and farm groups are on the defensive as environmental NGOs engaged in a targeted publicity campaign in Parliament yesterday (10 October) to muster support for an upcoming vote on tougher rules for pesticide use in the EU.
On 12 September, Parliament's Environment (ENVI) Committee voted to tighten a number of aspects of the Commission's proposed regulation on pesticide authorisation, following an earlier vote by the committee in favour of strict pesticide usage restrictions and reduction targets .
Pesticide producers and users, notably farmers, are concerned that Parliament's stance on the Commission's pesticides strategy is heavy-handed and will lead to "the disappearance of many substances that have long been used safely by farmers and which farmers need to protect their crops from disease".
As part of their campaign, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Netherlands publicly tested a number of fruits obtained in a Parliament supermarket for pesticide residues.
The group found residues of 28 substances in their samples, all of which "have known or suspected links with negative impacts on human health", the groups said. Residue levels found in some of the fruits, notably oranges, grapes and apricots, exceeded the EU's legal limits, or Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), according to their press statement.
A spokesperson for the groups called the findings "a total indictment of food products on sale in the EU".
My comment: Isn't it funny how everything in EU goes around farmers? Sometimes I think this is an farmers' association. I mean, of course, the measures should be reasonable, but somehow I prefer eating really organic and clean food. Go figure why...

EU law-makers call for delay in air quality standards

A vote in Parliament's environment committee in favour of more stringent air quality limits(9 October) and more flexible implementation delays looks set to send the law-making body on a collision course with Council before the end of the year.
According to the Commission, 370,000 people in Europe die prematurely every year from diseases linked to air pollution - 350,000 of them because of atmospheric microparticles or dust of a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, known as Particulate Matter (PM2.5), which originate from transportation activities (cars, ships and planes), agriculture and small industrial plants. Despite this worrying statistic, MEPs and member states remain divided over by how much and how quickly the EU should improve its air quality and there is some speculation that a deal on a future EU Air Quality Directive, currently in the second-reading phase, may require Parliament and Council to go through a special conciliation procedure.
The main elements of Parliament's second-reading recommendation are:

  • The introduction, in 2010, of a non-binding target value of 20 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) for PM2.5 (the finest particles, which do the most damage to people's lungs). This target, which is lower than the Council's proposed 25µg/m3, would then become a binding limit value as of 2015;
  • the reduction of maximum concentration levels of larger particles, known as PM10, to an annual average of 33µg/m3, rather than leaving them unchanged at 40µg/m3, as suggested in the Council's common position;
  • the possibility of postponing attainment of limit values, not only for PM10 as suggested by the Council, but also for all other pollutants, for up to five years.

The report adopted by the environment committee argues that short-term action should instead be achieved by binding measures to reduce atmospheric pollution from the source, and calls on the Commission to adopt legislation on cutting particulate matter emissions from domestic heating equipment, farming and motor vehicles, including boats and aircraft within two years of the entry into force of the directive.

My comment: Good, let's see it done!

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