Plant protection products, commonly referred to as pesticides, are used to prevent damage to agricultural crops. However, they are potentially toxic and must therefore be stored, used and disposed of in a safe manner.The EU has adopted a strategy for the sustainable use of pesticides. EU legislation requires pesticides to be effective and have no harmful effects. The European Commission sets maximum levels for pesticide residues in food and feed. Pesticide residues in water are subject to the Water Framework Directive.
The European Parliament introduced amendments to the pesticides legislation to improve the protection of aquatic organisms and of vulnerable population groups. The EP recently adopted a report on honeybee health, which calls for improved pesticide risk assessment and notification procedures.
NGOs have criticised the pesticide legislation for containing too many exceptions, while the pesticides industry argues that such exceptions are indispensable. Farmers are concerned about the economic impact and administrative burden of new pesticide rules.A growing trade in counterfeit pesticides poses threats to human health and the environment.
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The main actions relate to training of users, advisors and distributors of pesticides, inspection of pesticide application equipment, the prohibition of aerial spraying, limitation of pesticide use in sensitive areas, and information and awareness raising about pesticide risks.