2020 EuroNatur Award for tenacious opponents of pesticides

EuroNatur President Thomas Potthast hands over the EuroNatur Award to Martina Hellrigl from the Delegation of Mals.

© Gerald Jarausch

The citizens of Mals are protesting against the use of pesticides in agriculture.

© Hollawint

Radolfzell, Mainau Island. They are people from very varying professional fields such as hairdressing, pharmacy and organic farming, but they are united by their struggle against the massive use of man-made pesticides in their commune. A four-strong delegation from Mals received the 2020 EuroNatur Award today on the island of Mainau on Lake Constance. This award honours the community for their persistence in fighting against the use of agricultural chemicals that poison our environment.

For almost six years, a large number of the inhabitants of Mals have been standing up for their health and for a biodiverse agriculture – despite huge resistance from the farming lobbies, politicians and the judiciary. Representatives of the so-called “Mals Way” have often been the subject of judicial proceedings. Furthermore, the inhabitants of Mals will still have to argue in court their case for the implementation of their referendum.

In his address, EuroNatur president, Thomas Potthast, highlighted the exemplary character of the inhabitants of Mals: “As a community, the citizens of Mals have exercised their civic rights and have voted in a referendum to reject harmful pesticides and demand an agriculture which is viable for future generations. This is a genuine community decision, making Mals the focus of the debate in a fruit-growing region which uses pesticides so extensively. Furthermore, Mals creates a model for action which many other communities throughout Europe will be able to follow.”

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 Prize was awarded to a delegation from the village of Mals on Thursday 8th October at 18.00 on the island of Mainau on Lake Constance. The ceremony took place with only a small number of guests because of the pandemic.
  • Pesticide use in South Tyrol: Approximately ten percent of all the apples harvested in the EU are produced on around 18,000 hectares of land in the South Tyrol. The use of artificially produced pesticides is widespread in the Vinschgau region, endangering not only the health of those living locally but also posing a threat to numerous species of flora and fauna, amongst them important pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
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