IPM and the EU: Directive 2009/128/EC

On the 21th October 2009, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union decided on establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides by reducing the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and promoting the use of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives of pesticides. This new directive 2009/128/EC was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on the 24th November 2009.

For this purpose, the Parliament of the European Union adopted the definition of Integrated Pest Management of the FAO with only minor adaptations:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) means the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically and ecologically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.

This is, however, still a rather general definition that does not mention important features of IPM like the use of selective pesticides, beneficial organisms and anti-resistance strategies.

An important issue however is the obligation for member states to adopt National Action Plans to reduce risks and impacts of pesticide use by encouraging the development and introduction of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or technique in order to reduce dependency on the use of pesticides. These National Actions Plans should have been implemented by now.

In these National Action Plans the member states must describe how they will implement measures in order to achieve a better implementation of IPM and alternative approaches of techniques in order to reduce dependency on the use of pesticides. Several points must be taken into account:

  1. Training: all professional users, distributors and advisors must have access to appropriate training, by bodies designated by the competent authorities. Therefore, by 14 December 2013, Member States shall establish certification systems and designate the competent authorities responsible for the implementation.
  2. Requirements for sales of pesticides: restriction of sales of pesticides to professional users holding a certificate.
  3. Information and awareness-raising: inform the general public on the risks and the potential effects of pesticides for human health, non-target organisms and the environment, and on the use of non-chemical alternatives. The Member States must also put in place systems for gathering information on pesticide acute and chronic poisoning incidents.
  4. Pesticide application equipment in professional use shall be inspected at regular intervals, at least once before 14 December 2016. New equipment shall be inspected at least once within a period of five years after purchase. This means that professional users shall conduct regular calibrations and technical checks of the pesticide application equipment.
  5. Aerial spraying is prohibited, except in a few special cases.
  6. Member States may include in their National Action Plans provisions on informing persons who could be exposed to the spray drift.
  7. Specific measures will be taken to protect the aquatic environment and drinking water. These shall include giving preferences to pesticides that are not classified as dangerous for the aquatic environment and to the most efficient application techniques (low-drift equipment), especially in vertical crops like orchards. Also the use of mitigation measures which minimise the risk of off-site pollution like establishment of buffer zones will be taken.
  8. The use of pesticides in specific areas like public parks, sports, school and recreation grounds will be restricted. Low-risk plant plant protection products and biological measures shall be considered in the first place.
  9. The Member States must adopt the necessary measures to ensure that storage, handling, dilution and disposal of pesticides before and after application do not endanger human health or the environment.
  10. The Member States must take all necessary measures to promote low-pesticide input pest management, giving priority to non-chemical methods. This includes integrated pest management as well as organic farming. They shall establish or support the establishment of necessary conditions for the implementation of integrated pest management, in particular they shall ensure that professional users have at their disposal information and tools for pest monitoring and decision making, as well as advisory services on integrated pest management. This implementation must be reported to the Commission by 30 June 2013. The general principles of integrated pest management should be implemented by all professional users by 1 January 2014.
  11. Harmonised risk indicators shall be established. Trends in the use of certain active substances will be identified.