Members of the European Parliament passed an important law on pesticides last week which seeks to reduce their use over the next decade by promoting the use of non-chemical products and less harmful substitutes. The text, voted in by an overwhelming majority, stipulates a ban on 22 substances found in pesticides which have been linked with cancer, endocrine disruption or infertility. Only two of the products will be banned in 2009 (Carbendazim and Dinocap); the rest will not be affected until 2018, when current permits expire. The law places strict limits on crop-spraying and bans the use of pesticides near schools and hospitals. It is the first legislation of its type ever passed in the world. To encourage the shift to less toxic pesticides, member states can choose to offer grants for their use; or provide a tax exemption.
The anti-pesticide lobby MDRGF welcomed the legislation and noted that it also paved the way for better protection for bees. Some farm lobbies have warned that the legislation could drive up the prices of basic foodstuffs and even lead to famine.