The CAP and pesticides

Pesticides fight crop pests and reduce competition from weeds, thus improving yields and protecting the availability, quality, reliability and price of produce to the benefit of farmers and consumers.

Improper use of pesticides might involve risks to health and environment. This is why the common agricultural policy (CAP) promotes the sustainable use of plant protection products in a variety of ways:

  • most direct payments to farmers are no longer linked to production, reducing the incentive to produce more than is needed and to intensify the use of pesticides;
  • "green" direct payments are given to farmers for agricultural practices that are beneficial for the climate and the environment;
  • under so called cross-compliance rules, farmers can lose part of their payments if they do not respect the requirements of EU law related to environment, climate change, the good agricultural condition of land, human, animal and plant health standards and animal welfare. This includes the conditions for use of pesticides;
  • in the specific case of fruits and vegetables, at least 10% of spending in the operational programmes must be on environmental actions that go beyond mandatory environmental standards;
  • agri-environmental measures are designed to reduce the risks of environmental degradation and enhance the sustainability of agro-ecosystems;
  • farm advisory systems have to inform farmers about conditions under cross-compliance, green direct payments, issues related to the water framework directive and the sustainable use of pesticides directive.

Chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, antibiotics and other substances are severely restricted when it comes to organic farming.

The EU does not just control the use of pesticides in agriculture. It has also set requirements on placing plant protection products on the market and on biocidal products, as well as fixing maximum residue levels in food.