Dispute over pesticide approval: uba calls for halt to 18 agricultural poisons

"Illegal" approvals to be revoked: In the pesticide dispute, the top environmental authority takes on the Consumer Protection Agency.

A perfect world. But it only exists without pesticides Photo: dpa

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is standing up to the controversial approvals recently given to 18 weed and insect poisons, including one containing glyphosate. Maria Krautzberger, president of the top environmental agency, has sent a letter to Helmut Tschiersky, president of the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), urging him to "withdraw the temporary approvals you have granted."

The quantities in which pesticides may be used in agriculture and the extent to which they endanger bees, beetles, biodiversity as a whole – this has long been a political issue. But a rift of this kind between the responsible authorities, documented on two pages of letters, is rare, if not unique. The letter, which was received by the BVL on Thursday, is available to the taz.

The dispute is also explosive for the government, because on the one hand an office is affected that is under the control of SPD Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, on the other hand one that belongs to the agricultural department of her CDU colleague Julia Klockner.

An Emnid survey commissioned by the environmental association BUND this week did show that there is support for more eco: 79 percent of citizens surveyed called for binding rules that would better protect insects. But the two ministers keep clashing. Klockner repeatedly takes Schulze’s proposals for stricter regulations on agricultural poisons and fertilizers too far – and vice versa.

Last Friday, the Federal Environment Ministry had already told the taz that the 18 agents had "significant negative effects on biodiversity, in particular on insects. Since environmental requirements had been disregarded, the approvals were unlawful.

There are fears of "significant negative effects on biodiversity".

The BVL approved the agents without conditions, but only for a limited period until December 31, 2019. The Federal Environment Agency had in turn made its necessary agreement conditional on farmers who use the agents "completely" refraining from using arable poisons on part of their land from 2020 at the latest. Traders and farmers would need a "lead time," Krautzberger wrote. "Under no circumstances" did the intended transition period allow "the BVL to issue a temporary approval without the application provision." Its action was "unlawful."

Krautzberger also warns that "the other conditional approvals already granted" cannot be understood to mean that a one-year time limit without environmental conditions is acceptable. At issue are another 17 agents that are still in the approval process.

A spokesman for the BVL said it was "irritating that a letter to Mr. Tschiersky is already public the day we receive it," but would not comment on the content. He said only that the president would send Maria Krautzberger a letter in response, but would not do so publicly.

On Wednesday, the approvals were also a topic in the Agriculture Committee of the Bundestag. The campaign platform Campact has launched the appeal: "No breach of law for bee venom", within half a day it was already signed by 132,000 people.