The Green Party have issued a press release ahead of the European elections, pledging to campaign for a 50% reduction in pesticide use by 2050. The press release also contains a number of misleading claims regarding pesticide use.
The Green Party claim that the number of pesticide applications have doubled during the last 25 years. The area treated has doubled since 1990, whilst the volume of pesticides applied has actually halved over the same period.[i]
They also say the variety of pesticides has increased; this is a positive development. Greater variety has arisen as a result of innovation, meaning farmers have more tools to combat weeds, pests and diseases. Variety also helps guard against the threat of resistance, and modern compounds have a lower environmental footprint.
Finally, the Green Party make the claim that it’s a “myth” that pesticides are needed to feed the world. Yet we already lose up to 40% of global crop yields to weeds, pests and disease every year. Without crop protection, these losses could double[ii], and food prices would rise. That is an unacceptable scenario if we are to meet the challenge of feeding a global population set to reach 9 billion by 2050 and in a world where over 800 million people do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.[iii]
CPA CEO Sarah Mukherjee said;
“These targets fail to take account of the fact that lower impact pesticides, such as biopesticides and products approved for organic farming, often require more applications, both in terms of frequency and volume, than more traditional chemistry. Setting arbitrary reduction targets would severely limit the ability of farmers to grow healthy, safe, affordable food. In a country where it is estimated that 8 million[iv] people are in food poverty and 4 million are regularly using foodbanks[v] that is not a viable policy.
“By using crop protection products, farmers are able to maximise the productivity of existing farmland, meaning more land can be spared for nature. To maintain current yields without crop protection products would mean bringing more land into production, meaning less space for biodiversity and a more carbon intensive model of agriculture.”