István Nagy, the minister of agriculture, said that although Hungary agrees in principle on the need to cut down on the use of pesticides, consumers must be informed how much more food will cost as a result of the measure.
Minister Nagy said the European Union’s proposals will lead to a fall in agricultural production and higher food prices. Further, the proposed measure would open up the bloc to cheap imports associated with food safety risks. So the impact study should detail the effects of the proposal in numbers, he added. He noted that the majority of the EU Council has asked the European Commission to supplement its impact study with forecasts. In its June proposal, the Commission said pesticides should be cut by half in all member states, the minister noted, adding that the various positions and outcomes of each country in terms of pesticide reduction had not been taken into consideration. Another problem is that the proposal seeks a ban on certain pesticides in so-called sensitive areas, including nitrate-sensitive areas — covering almost 80% of the bloc’s cultivated areas. The resulting fall in crop yields would present an “unacceptable risk” amid the current war environment and would threaten food security, he added. Whereas society would benefit from reducing the use of pesticides, health, environmental and climate protection considerations must be finely balanced against competitiveness and the economy, the minister said.