A Loophole for Plant Protection

The EU Commission's strict plans to ban the use of plant protection products in certain protected areas are now off the table in their original form, however, the issue is far from over. The draft of the "Nature Restoration Law" provides for far-reaching restrictions. Alexandra Wrann reports.

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Minister of Viticulture of Rhineland-Palatinate (at the Palatinate Viticulture Day)
Minister of Viticulture of Rhineland-Palatinate (at the Palatinate Viticulture Day)

An unofficial letter, a so-called non-paper of the Commission, leaked already at the end of November 2022, shows that the Commission will not stick to the original strict plans. However, the threat to wine producers is far from over, as Christine Schneider (EPP), MEP for Rhineland-Pfalz, explained at the Palatinate Winegrowers' Day on 17 January in Neustadt an der Weinstraße.

Accordingly, the new threat emanates from another fundamental objective of the European Green Deal: the "Nature Restoration Law". The corresponding draft for this was presented by the EU Commission in June last year. According to Schneider, it also provides for plant protection to be severely restricted or banned in certain vulnerable areas.

The law poses "a much, much greater danger" to the industry, he said: Unlike the Plant Protection Directive, which is being negotiated in the EU Parliament's Agriculture Committee, this law is being debated in the Environment Committee. And agriculture has a much smaller lobby there, since most of the representatives there put environmental protection first and therefore "do not have the agricultural consequences on their radar". "I fear that the Restoration Act will be used as a backdoor for plant protection," Schneider sums up.

Organic vs. conventional?

At the same time, the MEP also denounced the contents of the non-paper. In it, the Commission acknowledged that its original plans were not feasible in their present form. Instead, however, it is now proposed to allow plant protection in the most prone areas, and thus widespread viticulture - but only certified organic. This would threaten conventional viticulture with extinction. Schneider therefore called on the producers to stand together. The use of plant protection products must be reduced to a necessary level. But not through bans, but by means of innovative technological solutions, such as digitally controlled, precise application of the agents.



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