HomeProgressFloods of pesticides in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Open letter

Floods of pesticides in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Open letter

On 7.7.21 a group of associations published an open letter to invoke the protection of public health and ecosystems in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio against the floods of pesticides in agriculture. (1)

The document is addressed to the presidents and councilors for agriculture of the three regions, to those of the provinces of Viterbo, Terni, Grosseto, Arezzo, Florence and to the mayors affected by monocultures and pesticides.

Pesticides and Common Agricultural Policy

The EU Court of Auditors - in special report no. 13/20, which we have already reported (2) - offered a negative response to the question whether 'Has the CAP contributed positively to maintaining and strengthening biodiversity?'. Recognizing that the Commission and Member States had taken action to promote the sustainable use of plant protection products, but the situation has worsened rather than improved.

The CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) has not introduced any conditionality, to tie aid in agriculture to the effective reduction in the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides. And the knots of SAIO - the EU regulation scheme on (Statistics on Agricultural Input and Output, SAIO) - have not yet been disbanded. (3).

Integrated production

The so-called 'integrated production' it has been prescribed to all farmers, on paper, for a decade now. It was in Italy that the technical standard Uni 11233: 2009 was published, to control and reduce the use of input chemicals in
agriculture. (4)

Pesticides they should represent one last resort, the final solution to be used - outside of organic farming - when other agronomic practices are not effective. But over the years both consumption and pesticide residues in groundwater and surface water have increased, as we have seen (5,6).

Words (and pesticides) in the wind

the 9.11.20 the associations of the territory had already urged the politicians and the bodies in address to face the emergency of the conventional monocultures (that is not organic) in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Without receiving any feedback, ça va sans dir.

The European Commission among other things, it has already initiated an infringement procedure against Italy, it should be remembered, for not having checked and prevented the pollution from pesticides of the waters of Lake Vico, in the province of Viterbo. (6)

Intensive hazelnut groves

Sensitive areas which include the bio-district of via Amerina and delle Forre are still besieged by intensive hazelnut groves, whose disastrous impact on ecosystems and biodiversity has also been measured by ISPRA, as has also been seen (6,7).

'The province of Viterbo it has now reached the unenviable hazelnut coverage of 20-25 thousand hectares. Some municipalities in the Viterbo area have 1600 hectares (ha) planted with hazelnuts out of a total of 1800 agricultural hectares. And the hazelnut groves are now expanding in Umbria and Tuscany, because land prices are lower than in Lazio. ' (open letter 7.7.22).

Pesticides and agricultural policies, poor Italy

The National Strategic Plan for the implementation of the CAP in Italy it was blatantly rejected by the European Commission, as we have seen, on 31.3.22. Also due to the scarcity of measures taken to control and reduce the use of pesticides and other agrochemicals in agriculture. (8)

Agricultural policies Coldirettemoreover, they have diverted the resources of the PNRR destined to sustainable agriculture in favor of the photovoltaic and technological sectors. (9) And the National Action Plan for the reduction of pesticides (PAN) has expired since 2018, as recalled by the special rapporteur at the UN on human rights associated with the management of hazardous substances and waste. (10)

Waste water and agricultural water

Italy meanwhile, it stockpots infringement procedures and convictions of the European Court of Justice, with hundreds of millions of euros in penalties, for over-ten-year non-fulfillment of waste water treatment duties. (11)

Agricultural waters must meet the requirements set out in reg. EU 2020/741, starting from 23.6.23, and it is probable that no watercourse in Italy today complies with the new rules. (12) Starting with the great rivers (v. eg. Po).

(Ir-) widespread liability

The public health service, already at the level of the local health authority (ASL), has the direct responsibility of preventing unfortunate events. (13) With the duty to take every action necessary to protect human health and the environment, in compliance with the principles of lesser burden and good performance (Italian Constitution, art. 97).

Sustainable development - which includes attention to the protection of 'the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems, also in the interest of future generations'and introduces limits to private economic initiative when'contrary to social utility or in a way that damages security, freedom and human dignity'- was recalled among other things in the recent constitutional reform (articles 9 and 41. See note 14).

Provisional conclusions

The exposure a flood of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and their toxic and dangerous substances has a deadly impact on the health of people, animals and ecosystems. Water contamination tends to be irreparable, as ISPRA periodic analyzes show. (15) And the soils are degrading, with greater risks of desertification. (16)

It is task of all the authorities responsible for the protection of health and territories to adapt the regulations of their respective competence and guarantee their effective application with suitable supervisory and sanction tools. Also taking into account the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UN Agenda 2030 and the reform project of the cd Pesticides Regulation, adopted in Brussels on 22.6.22. (17)

Dario Dongo


(1) Coordination of the Orvieto, Tuscia and Lake Bolsena Associations. Kronos Academy, WWF, Italia Nostra. Alfina Interregional Safeguard Committee (CISA). Interregional Environmental Heritage Network, Tuscia. Another city, Orvieto. Defense Health and Territory Committee of Castel Giorgio. Committee for the protection and enhancement of the Chiani and Migliari Valleys. Il Riccio Association, Città della Pieve

(2) Dario Dongo, Marina De Nobili. CAP, pesticides and biodiversity. Report of the EU Court of Auditors. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.7.20,

(3) Marta Strinati. Pesticides, call for the collection and publication of reliable data. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 30.5.22,

(4) Dario Dongo, Donato Ferrucci. Sustainable agriculture, the ABC. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.2.19,

(5) Donato Ferrucci, Dario Dongo. Integrated agriculture and use of pesticides, the data do not add up. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.1.19,

(6) Dario Dongo. I love you Italy. The dark side of Ferrero's hazelnuts. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 30.9.20,

(7) Dario Dongo, Giulia Orsi. Impact of organic and conventional hazelnuts on ecosystems, preview of the ISPRA study. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 28.12.20,

(8) Dario Dongo. PAC, the European Commission rejects Italy's National Strategic Plan. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.4.22,

(9) Dario Dongo. National action plan for pesticides, sustainable agriculture and PNRR. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.2.22,

(10) Dario Dongo. Human rights and pesticides, PFAS, hazardous waste. OHCHR audit in Italy. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 1.1.22,

(11) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. Wastewater in agriculture, public health and food safety. EU rules and the Italian disaster. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 2.3.22,

(12) Dario Dongo, Ylenia Patti Giammello. Agricultural waters and food safety, reg. EU 2020/741. The ABC. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 26.9.21,

(13) Law 23.12.78, n. 833. Establishment of the national health service. Text updated to 8.5.10 on Normattiva, https://bit.ly/3yS5Pra

(14) Dario Dongo. Sustainable development in the Constitution and the vices of Italian democracy. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.2.22,

(15) Dario Dongo. ISPRA, 2020 report on pesticides in water. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 24.12.20,

(16) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. Desertification and soil degradation, PRIMA research and innovation. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 22.6.22,

(17) Dario Dongo. Reduction of pesticides, the proposed EU regulation. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 25.6.22.

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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