Friday, October 26, 2007

Pests and the European Parliament

European Parliament in Strasbourg
European Parliament building, Strasbourg, France
This week European Parliament MEPs proposed that spraying pesticides near schools or hospitals should be heavily controlled to safeguard health and food quality.

There would also be a general ban on aerial crop spraying, making it illegal to kill bugs using a method made famous by Alfred Hitchcock's movie North by Northwest.

No doubt, the highly protected agricultural sector would be provided with compensation.

For the pests in the European Parliament whose only exposure to tropical pests is in the rarefied atmosphere of 5-star hotels when on their regular junkets, and the anti-GMerrs, in the comfort of Europe, the mammoth UN environment report that was published on Thursday said:

Losses in total global farm production, due to insect pests, have been estimated at about 1 per cent.

Since 1987 the expansion of cropland has slackened, but land use intensity has increased dramatically. A hectare of cropland, which then yielded on average 1.8 tonnes, now produces 2.5 tonnes.

Unsustainable land use is causing degradation, a threat as serious as climate change and biodiversity loss. It affects up to a third of the world's people, through pollution, soil erosion, nutrient depletion, water scarcity, salinity, and disruption of biological cycles.

The food security of two-thirds of the world's people depends on fertilisers, especially nitrogen.

Population growth, over-consumption and the continued shift from cereal to meat consumption mean food demand will increase to 2.5-3.5 times the present figure.

By 2030 developing countries will probably need 120 million more hectares to feed themselves.

The loss of genetic diversity may threaten food security: 1 animal species make up 90 per cent of all livestock, and 30 crops dominate agriculture, providing an estimated 90 per cent of the world's calories.