Commune of Mals fights for agriculture without pesticides

++ South Tyrolean commune has been campaigning for a pesticide ban for six years ++ Insecticides, herbicides, etc. are putting the living conditions of people, animals and plants at risk ++ To be honoured with the EuroNatur Award 2020 ++

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Rural idyll in front of an alpine panorama. The majority of people in Mals would like to see this kind of agriculture.

© Alex Filz
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Pesticides? No, thanks! Organic farming? Yes please! "Operation Sunflower" in Mals

© Hollawint

Radolfzell. The whole of Europe is spraying its farmland, meadows and orchards with industrially produced pesticides. The whole of Europe? Not quite! A small village in the Vinschgau is refusing to give up its stand against the massive use of glyphosate and other pesticides. In recognition of the courage and tenacity of many of the people of Mals, the South Tyrolean commune is to be honoured, on 8 October, with the EuroNatur Award 2020.

South Tyrol is the largest apple growing region in Europe; around one in ten apples is harvested in the valleys around the Dolomites. This intensive cultivation is accompanied by an extremely high use of pesticides. In apple orchards - unlike in cereal fields - it is not just the soil that is chemically treated, trees are also sprayed at a height of up to two metres. With this spraying method, drift is a significant problem because fine droplets of pesticide are blown everywhere by the wind, even into residential areas.

Many of the citizens of Mals were no longer willing to accept this and, in 2014, they initiated a referendum. 76% of the population opted for a future without pesticides. However, the remaining quarter did not accept the outcome of the referendum and, to date, legal actions have prevented the pesticide ban from being implemented. But that is not the end of the story: the commune of Mals is continuing to strive to make the wishes of the majority of its citizens a reality.

“The widespread use of pesticides in the fruit growing region of the Vinschgau is a threat to human health. At the same time, it is leading to the extinction of entire insect populations in the region. The fact that the majority of the commune of Mals is so resolutely opposed to the poisoning of its environment and is thus campaigning for a different, biodiversity-friendly agriculture should serve as an example for all communities in Europe”, said EuroNatur President Thomas Potthast, explaining the rationale behind this year's EuroNatur Award decision.


Background information
EuroNatur award: Previous prize winners include Dr. Mario F. Broggi, Jonathan Franzen, Dr. Luc Hoffmann, Gudrun Steinacker and the „brave women of Kruščica“. It is only the second time that a commune has received this award. It is an award without prize money, recognising exceptional achievements in nature conservation which takes account of both people and nature. The 2020 EuroNatur award is to be awarded on the island of Mainau on Lake Constance on 8th October 2020 at 17.00, but this may change according to the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Further enquiries:
Christian Stielow, Email: christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 – 92 72 15

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