Brussels Bulletin: Campaigner calls for regulatory action on European pesticides

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Brussels Bulletin: Campaigner calls for regulatory action on European pesticides
Pesticide campaigner demands additional safety measures, Commission 'regrets' NGOs decision of to quit obesity platform, while EU farmers are furious over 'sell-out' Mercosur deal. FoodNavigator brings you the latest news from Brussels.

Pesticide campaigner demands additional safety measures


Regulators must take action on pesticides in European food, according to campaign group PAN Europe. It cited a the annual report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which says over a quarter of the food consumed in Europe contains residues of two or more pesticides.

For certain foods the situation is much worse, said PAN Europe. More than 60% of the popular summer fruits tested (currants, sweet cherries, strawberries and bananas) come with pesticide 'cocktails', it said.

According to PAN Europe, regulators are currently carrying out safety assessments on single pesticides, and failing to assess for pesticide mixtures present in food. This situation not only fails to address the EU law requirements, but it also puts consumer health at risk in a clear violation of human rights, it claimed.

Angeliki Lysimachou, Science Policy Officer of PAN Europe, said: “The rate of exposure to pesticide mixtures has increased in the past years and while regulators are - for over a decade now - promising to develop an assessment protocol for mixtures, consumers have become ‘guinea pigs’. We call upon our regulators to immediately place an additional safety factor for mixtures and stop pretending that chemical mixtures are safe.”   

EIT Food selects third round of RisingFoodStars

EIT Food has selected 14 mature agrifood startups from 10 different countries into the third cohort of its RisingFoodStars community intended to drive disruption of the food system.

This next phase of expansion to our scaleup association strengthens our commitment to transforming the food system by scaling agrifood companies in an international context who are actively driving the innovations of the future​,” said EIT Food.

Those accepted are:

Amai Proteins​ (IL) - produces healthy, tasty and cost-effective proteins for the mass food market

Urban Crop Solutions​ (BE) - provides total solutions for indoor vertical farming

Trellis AI​ (IL) - a food system intelligence platform with real time data management and market intelligence over the entire food chain

Team30MHz ​(NL) - a digital platform for all indoor farming with wireless sensors allowing real-time remote crop monitoring on any device

Fruitsapp ​(IT) - a B2B Marketplace for the fresh produce industry, connecting companies based on their complementary needs

Connecting Food​ (FR) - allows digital B2B food auditing in real time from farm to fork and demonstrates to consumers proof that brands respect commitments and fair-trade practices

Wasteless Ltd​ (IL) - real-time dynamic pricing engine for fresh food that allows supermarkets to promote products with a shorter expiration date on the shelves

Mimica ​(UK) - focuses on food expiry labelling, Mimica Touch shows food freshness and spoilage in real time, by change in texture

SIA Agroplatforma​ (LV) - develops a grain trading platform connecting farmers with buyers and the stock market

Natufia Labs​ (EE) - focuses on vertical farming in-house, with a device that allows growing any plants and herbs automatically

Innovopro Ltd​ (IL) - produces unique chickpea protein ingredients in order to create nutritious, tasty, safe, and sustainable food products

Thorice ​(IS) - controlled chilling technology for the poultry industry

Novolyze SAS ​(FR) - a food safety company ensuring strong compliance with international Food Safety & Quality standards

Fazla Gida​ (TR) - a holistic tech platform to manage food waste according to the Lansink ladder

Heatwave has limited impact on EU crops


The recent heatwave across Europe had relatively little impact on the yields of most crops, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Committee.

Its latest monitoring report said: “At EU level, the yield impacts of the heatwaves - compared to the June issue of the MARS Bulletin - are expected to be of little or no significance for winter barley, durum wheat and rapeseed; and relatively small for winter soft wheat, sunflower and grain maize.”

However, the yield potential, it said, for spring barley and spring wheat was expected to be more significantly reduced. It added: “The outlook for sugar beet and potatoes has also weakened but overall good yields are still possible depending on thermal conditions and water availability in the coming months.”

Most parts of Europe were affected by unusually early, and intense, heatwaves in June 2019. Spain, eastern France, Czechia, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia suffered the greatest impact of the heatwave on annual crops. Only Ireland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and northern parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway escaped the unusually warm June conditions.

Commission 'regrets' NGOs decision of to quit obesity platform

GettyImages-turk stock photographer

Both the European Commission and industry organisation, FoodDrinkEurope, said they regretted the decision of seven non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to leave the EU Platform on diet, physical activity and health, urging them to wait for the results of an ongoing review.

The group, which included the European Consumer Organisation, the European Public Health Alliance, the European Heart Network, World Obesity, COFACE Families Europe and the International Baby Food Action Network, walked out of the platform complaining it “was not fit for purpose​”. A statement from the bodies lamented a “continual decrease in resources, time and attention” at the platform and called for an “an acknowledgement of the limited impact that this forum, and the  voluntary approach it embodies, can have​.”

The platform was launched in 2005 as part of the EC’s efforts to address the obesity epidemic in Europe.  

EU signs landmark free trade agreement with Vietnam

The EU signed a landmark free trade deal in Hanoi paving the way for tariff reductions on 99% of goods between the trading bloc and Vietnam.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was described as “the most ambitious free trade deal ever concluded with a developing country​”.

It provides for the almost complete (99%) elimination of customs duties between the two blocks. Sixty-five percent of duties on EU exports to Vietnam will disappear as soon as the FTA enters into force, while the remainder will be phased out gradually over a period of up to 10 years. As regards Vietnamese exports to the EU, 71% of duties will disappear upon entry into force, the remainder being phased out over a period of up to seven years.

The FTA will also reduce many of the existing non-tariff barriers to trade with Vietnam and open up Vietnamese services and public procurement markets to EU companies, while the IPA will strengthen protection of EU investments in the country

It still needs the approval of the European Parliament, which is not guaranteed as some MEPs are concerned about Vietnam’s human rights record.

EU farmers furious over 'sell-out' Mercosur deal


EU farmers denounced a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur that was finally agreed​ after 20 years of negotiations.

According to the European Commission the agreement means EU exporters will gain from progressive tariff cuts that over time will bring European countries yearly savings of more than €4bn. But European farmers complained that the deal put European farmers at risk.

The head of Germany's main farming union, Joachim Rukwied, called the deal 'totally unbalanced', saying it would threaten the livelihoods of 'many family-run agricultural businesses'.

Christiane Lambert of France's biggest agricultural union FNSEA tweeted: "Unacceptable signature of a Mercosur-EU accord, which will expose European farmers to unfair competition and consumers to total deception."

In its biggest concession, the EU will open its markets to South America agricultural products via quotas: 99 tonnes of beef per year at a preferential rate of 7.5%, a supplementary quota on 180,000 tonnes of sugar and another one on 100,000 tonnes of poultry.

Copa-Cogeca also complained that the deal promoted double standards. Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen tweeted the agreement “will encourage a double standards trade policy and widen the gap between what is being asked from European farmers and what is tolerated from Mercosur producers. It is not just economics that is at stake here. It is the triple bottom line of European sustainability: social, economics, and the environment.”

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