EU: A new campaign from PAN-EU denounces the increasing presence of 55 most harmful pesticides on the EU market

  May 24, 2022

Our partner PAN-EU (Pesticide Action Network Europe) is launching a new campaign to denounce the increasing presence of 55 highly harmful pesticides still on the European market, calling for an immediate ban on twelve of the most harmful pesticides and the total elimination of all 55 highly hazardous pesticides by 2030.

In 2009, Regulation (EC) n° 1107/2009 related to the placing of plant protection products (pesticides) on the market introduced a new category of active substances called ‘candidates for substitution’. The aim of this category is to identify the approved active substances that are most harmful to humans and the environment and to replace them with less harmful chemical and non-chemical alternatives, ultimately leading to their elimination.

Due to the toxicity of these substances, Regulation (EC) N° 1107/2009 regulates them much more strictly than other active substances. Their approval period by the EU is limited to 7 years (compared to 15 years for other pesticides) and Member States are legally obliged to give preference to less harmful alternatives when applying for authorization of a pesticide containing a candidate for substitution.

However, not only Member States failed to meet this target, but a new PAN Europe report, ‘Forbidden Fruit’, shows that European food is increasingly contaminated with these most hazardous pesticides.

Salomé Roynel of PAN Europe states : ‘These chemicals should disappear from our food. But instead, we observe a dramatic increase in exposure to these most toxic substances over the last ten years. The proportion of fruits and vegetables contaminated with these pesticides continues to rise. Often the food shows multiple residues of two or more of these toxic substances at the same time. This clearly demonstrates that the substitution rules have never been implemented by the Member States and that they have failed in their responsibility to protect consumers.’

The European Commission is currently discussing new pesticide reduction targets, to be presented on June, 22. The announced reductions fall far short of what many citizens are asking for, and the Commission is facing a very resistant agrochemical lobby, including the giants Syngenta and Bayer.

PAN Europe’s new campaign will be rolled out over the next few months in 10 Member States, including Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, with the following demands :

  • Member States must immediately ban the 12 most toxic Candidates for Substitution. These Toxic Twelve are among the most dangerous ones and exposure to them is the highest, due to their use in the fields and/or their residues in food. 
  • Member States must start banning all pesticide products containing candidates for substitution and have to report on their progress to the European Commission and the public.
  • The European Commission must ensure that the substitution guidelines are being  independently reviewed by the end of 2022 to favour non-chemical alternatives and to shift away from the current pesticide-intensive agricultural system.
  • The European Commission must put an end to continuous extensions of approval of these toxic substances from today on. 
  • The European Commission must adopt a zero-residue policy in food by 2035:  the legal pesticide residue limits for these substances should be lowered to the lowest levels (determination limit).


Read the PAN-EU press release.

Visit the PAN-EU campaign website.

Read the PAN-EU report: Forbidden Fruit.