Ireland still has work to do to reduce the use of pesticides in lines with EU targets.

By 2030, Ireland must reduce its pesticide use by 50 per cent compared to 2015-17.

However the latest available data suggests that progress has flatlined over the past five years.

The use of pesticides classed as “more hazardous” pesticides” even increased slightly in 2020.

Pesticide use in Ireland against baseline ‘100’ and 2030 target of ’50’ (red line)

A number of other countries are also far off target. Portugal is the only EU member state to have already reached its 50 per cent reduction.

“Although the EU is advancing in the right direction in view of reaching the targets of 50% reduction in the use and risk of chemical and more hazardous pesticides by 2030, more work still needs to be done”, said the European Commission in a statement.

EU ministers had questioned the targets and whether dramatically reducing pesticides could reduce yields and risk European food security.

In a letter responding to ministers, Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, doubled down on the targets:

“The SUR proposal [Regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products] would not threaten food security. On the contrary, they would safeguard food security in the longer term.”

“The Commission remains committed to continuing to work constructively with and support fully the co-legislators to deliver on this important proposal, with a view to achieving our common objectives of protecting the health of our citizens and the environment.”