To improve the protection of insects, extensive restrictions on the use of pesticides became applicable as changes to the Plant Protection Application Ordinance came into force in Germany on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
The measures are part of the action programme for insect protection from 2019. In addition to clear restrictions on the use of pesticides, they also provide for glyphosate to be phased out by the end of 2023. Until then, the use of glyphosate will be significantly restricted in several applications.
Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze, said: “The glyphosate phase-out is coming. I have worked towards this for a long time with many environmentalists. Glyphosate kills everything that is green and thus deprives insects of their livelihood. That is why this exit is a great success. As of today, the use of glyphosate is banned in key areas. But other pesticides can also harm insects.
“That is why it is so important for the future of our ecosystems that fewer areas are sprayed in the future and that more retreats remain for insects. We have succeeded in achieving a good mix of regulatory law, contractual nature conservation and voluntary agreements such as those drawn up in some federal states between politics, environmental associations and agriculture. Agriculture can count on political support when making the switch.
“The number and diversity of insects are falling massively. As a result, the important services of insects for intact ecosystems threaten to be lost. The use of pesticides is one of the main reasons for the decline in insects. With the changes to the Plant Protection Application Ordinance that are now coming into force, targeted countermeasures are being taken in order to protect insects and preserve their habitats.
“On the one hand, the amending regulation regulates the binding end of glyphosate use at the end of 2023 and thus at the earliest possible point in time under European law. Until then, the ordinance provides for a general ban on glyphosate in a number of nature conservation and water protection areas. In agriculture, especially in arable farming, the ordinance has already led to further restrictions on the use of glyphosate, including for pre-sowing and stubble treatment. The particularly controversial use of glyphosate directly before harvest is generally prohibited. The use in house and allotment gardens as well as on areas intended for the general public, such as children’s playgrounds, is also already forbidden, as long as there are no valid approvals.”
In addition to the ban on glyphosate, the amendment to the Plant Protection Application Ordinance also involves other important improvements in insect protection: In areas that are particularly in need of ecological protection, a general ban on the use of herbicides and those insecticides that endanger bees and pollinators will be introduced.
In certain areas, with a view to arable land, there should be the possibility of primarily implementing cooperative concepts developed at state level that reward farmers for not using pesticides. And finally, a general minimum distance from waterways will apply in the future with any use of pesticides.
Both the total number of insects and the diversity of insect species are said to have declined sharply in Germany in recent years, due to the loss and deterioration of insect habitats, the loss of structural diversity in the landscape, the use of pesticides, the entry of pollutants into soils and bodies of water and light pollution.