Europe’s dependency on chemical pesticides is nothing short of an addiction. Crops are routinely doused with a variety of chemicals, usually applied multiple times to single crops throughout the whole growing season. Industrial agriculture, with its heavy use of chemical pesticides, pollutes our water and soil and leads to loss of habitats and biodiversity.
This report reviews existing scientific literature on the use of synthetic chemical pesticides in agriculture. Those pesticides pose a major threat to biodiversity either endangering species directly, by poisoning and eventually killing them, or indirectly, by disrupting ecosystems, e.g. through a collapse of the foodweb. ‘Cocktails’ of several pesticides commonly contaminate the environment, but the effects of such chemical mixtures are not routinely assessed as part of the EU pesticides’ authorisation process. In addition, pesticides are assessed by active ingredients, instead of examining the impacts of the actual marketed product used in the field. The EU process also fails to properly assess the long-term effects of exposure to low doses of pesticides, as it mainly focuses on their acute toxicity.
Non-chemical alternatives to pest management are already available to farmers but need the necessary political and financial support to go mainstream, and fulfil the promise of Ecological Farming, which combines modern science and innovation with respect for nature and biodiversity.
15 October 2015 – The Full version of this report has been revised due to an error with a map on page 60.