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Why pesticide use costs the EU population billions

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Pesticide spraying
In 2017, half of the cost of pesticide use in France was for cleaning polluted water. © Pixabay / Maxmann

France is the largest market for pesticides in the EU, ahead of Germany, Spain and Italy. Therefore, three French environmental organisations tried to determine the indirect costs of this pesticide use. They largely relied on data from France, which they extrapolated to the EU.

Included in their cost calculation they have

  • Tax breaks, for example in the form of low VAT rates,
  • the cost of government regulation,
  • the clean-up of contaminated water and groundwater,
  • the greenhouse gas emissions of manufacturing
  • and the treatment of farmers sickened by the use of pesticides.

The organisations pointed out that there are other costs, such as damage to health from pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables or the extinction of species in the fields. However, the costs of these damages are difficult to quantify and have therefore not been included.

Anyways, the figures are impressive: the report came to 327 million euros in external costs for France and 2.3 billion euros for the EU as a whole. More than half of this was for the purification of polluted water.

The authors contrasted this with the profits of the pesticide manufacturers in the EU, which they put at 900 million euros. The manufacturers spend tens of millions of euros every year through their lobbying associations to influence European policy. This is more than the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has at its disposal for the regulation of pesticides.

Lena Luig, global agriculture and world food officer at the development policy network Inkota, said: "It is not acceptable that corporations like Bayer and BASF make millions in profits from the pesticide business every year, while the general public has to pay for the health and environmental damage caused by pesticides". In order to achieve the European Commission's target of halving pesticide use in the EU, EU agricultural funds would have to be shifted from industrial farms to agro-ecological systems.


Related links:

Pesticide study: Pesticides – A model that's costing us dearly


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