Dutch farmers out of pesticide impasse

Parliamentarians vote for continued approval of 11 substances attacked by environmental groups

The Dutch upper parliamentary house has voted to amend national pesticide legislation to allow eleven controversial pesticides to be used another four years. After a month-long struggle between political parties, farmers and environmental organisations, the second chamber adopted the amendment yesterday by just one vote.

Environmental organisations and two parties in the governing coalition oppose use of the pesticides, but farmers claim them to be essential (ENDS Daily 7 August). Yesterday's decision still needs to be approved by the first chamber, followed by the Dutch pesticides approval authority. This procedure can last almost two years.

Until final admission of the substances, the country's environment and agriculture ministers say they will "tolerate" their continued use, even though it would be technically possible to prosecute farmers employing them. The ministers have also told farmers to seek more environmentally friendly substitutes whenever possible.

The new law raises the question of whether a loophole has been created, which could allow other pesticides to be classed as "essential" and therefore legal for continued use, even if EU environmental criteria suggest they should be prohibited. The organisation representing Dutch water companies, Vewin, has criticised the amendment and says it may launch legal appeals.

Follow Up:
Dutch environment ministry +31 70 339 3939, Vewin, tel: +31 70 414 4761.

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