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In bid to protect bees, EU aims for 50% reduction in the use of chemical pesticides by 2030

The European Commission is seeking to halve the use of chemical pesticides by 2030 to halt the decline of pollinators, in a plan likely to draw criticism both from those urging a phase-out of the substances and from farmers who say crop yields will suffer.

The Commission, the EU executive, wants to commit the European Union to a halving of the use of chemical and "high-risk" pesticides by 2030, a draft document seen by Reuters and set to be published on May 20 showed.

It did not explain what it meant by high-risk or how it would enforce the reduction.

The Commission declines to comment on unpublished drafts, which are working documents and are subject to change until they are adopted.

A Commission plan to make agriculture more sustainable, also due on May 20, may add details.

Beekeepers in western Europe have reported a fall in the number of bees and colony losses over the last 15 years, the European Food Safety Authority said.

EU lawmakers say this trend endangers the 76 percent of food production in Europe that depends on pollination.

Already EU regulators banned outdoor use of neonicotinoid insecticides in 2018, meaning they can only be used in closed greenhouses.

Some farming groups have said a wide ban on pesticides could cause crop yields to fall, and urged the Commission to assess the impact of the measures before fixing binding targets.

"We acknowledge calls for pesticide reductions and let's be clear — we are open to discuss targets," Geraldine Kutas, director general of the European Crop Protection Association, said. "Targets however have to be realistic and science-based."


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