New German Insect Protection Legislation Draws A Sharp Divide

Farmers always say that they care about the environment, while environmental protection organisations demand ever stricter regulations for the agricultural industry. With Germany’s new insect protection law, the conflicts of interest between the two groups have reached a new peak. EURACTIV Germany reports.

On 10 February, the German government is due to vote on the draft of a new insect protection law.

However, the road ahead is still strewn with hurdles, which have embroiled the two ministries concerned in a deep dispute. For months, environment minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) and agriculture minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) have been discussing the new insect protection legislative package both internally and publicly.

The bill had been introduced by the German Environment Ministry (BMU), prompting farmers to hold protests in Berlin and other cities in the past week and urge Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop the package. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) has been complaining for months that the BMU’s legislative proposal overrides its interests.

Environmental organisations support the law

However, the dispute is also heating up the tempers of affected individuals and associations. Environmental protection organisations hope that the new law will be an “urgently needed step for more insect protection in the agricultural landscape.”

With the Action Programme for Insect Protection passed in 2019, the German government presented an overdue catalogue of measures for better insect protection almost two years ago, according to a statement by an alliance of environmental organisations, including the Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), the Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and the environmental umbrella organisation Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR).

“The task now is to implement the action program ‘one-to-one’ instead of calling the agreements into question again,” they demand.

The development of insect populations “continues to be dramatic, especially in agricultural landscapes,” the statement continues. Specifically, the NGOs are calling for a ban on biodiversity-damaging pesticides in nature reserves and FFH areas.

The latter are zones designated by the EU’s Habitats Directive to protect plants, animals and their habitats. The organisations also advocate “a consistent phase-out of glyphosate use and the introduction of pesticide-free margins along all water bodies and their headwaters.”