Environmental and human health at risk – Scenarios to achieve the Farm to Fork 50% pesticide reduction goals

Vera Silva*, Xiaomei Yang, Luuk Fleskens, Coen J. Ritsema, Violette Geissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The recently released Farm to Fork Strategy of the European Union sets, for the first time, pesticide reduction goals at the EU level: 50% reduction in overall use and risk of chemical pesticides and a 50% use reduction of more hazardous pesticides. However, there is little guidance provided as to how to achieve these targets. In this study, we compiled the characteristics of all 230 EU-approved, synthetic, open-field use active substances (AS) used as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides, and explored the potential of seven Farm to Fork-inspired pesticide use reduction scenarios to achieve the 50% reduction goals. The pesticide reduction scenarios were based on recommended AS application rates, pesticide type, soil persistence, presence on the candidate for substitution list, and hazard to humans and ecosystems. All 230 AS have been found to cause negative effects on humans or ecosystems depending on exposure levels. This is found despite the incomplete hazard profiles of several AS. ‘No data available’ situations are often observed for the same endpoints and specific organisms. The results of the scenarios indicate that only severe pesticide use restrictions, such as allowing only low-hazard substances, will result in the targeted 50% use and risk reductions. Over half of the 230 AS considered are top use or top hazard substances, however, the reduction actions depend on the still to be defined EC priority areas and action plans, also for other recent and related strategies. Broader scenario implications (on productivity, biodiversity or economy) and the response of farmers to the pesticide use restrictions should be explored in those plans to define effective actions. Our results emphasize the need for a re-evaluation of the approved AS and of their representative uses, and the call for open access to AS, crop and region-specific use data to refine scenarios and assess effective reductions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107296
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Farm to Fork Strategy
  • Hazard to human and ecosystems
  • Pesticide reduction scenarios
  • Pesticide use


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