violette volkskrant pauline marie niks 

Violette Geissen leads SPRINT, a large-scale European research project into the effects of pesticides on humans, animals, plants and the environment
Foto credits: Pauline Marie Niks - Volkskrant

Much is still unknown about the role of pesticides in agriculture and their relation to people and the environment. Wageningen professor Violette Geissen is leading a large-scale study. Could there be connection with diseases such as Parkinson's? 

Geissen, currently professor of soil degradation and land management at Wageningen University & Research, is leading Sprint, a large-scale European research project into the effects of pesticides on humans, animals, plants and the environment. There is still so much that we do not know, says the German-born professor. "Many questions have never been properly researched." 

Pesticides should remain where they were applied. However, environmental researchers have found - through measurements over the past year and a half - that pesticides such as glyphosate can end up in nature reserves, on organic fields and in cities. How does this happen? And: what are the consequences?

From 4:15 onwards, Violette Geissen (SPRINT coordinator) explains on German television the relevance of the SPRINT project.



The European Commission launched the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies on May 20th, 2020. These two strategies recognise the risks and consequences of chemical pesticides on human health as well as soil, water, and biodiversity.

The Farm to Fork Strategy sets a target to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030. For the first time, a quantified pesticide reduction target is set at the EU level. Moreover, the goals are set for at least 25% of EU agricultural land to be under organic farming management by 2030, that no chemical pesticides be used in sensitive areas such as EU urban green areas, and the decline of pollinators be reversed. 

press release: 409 words – reading time 1 min 34 sec

The use of pesticides represents a risk to human and environmental health, with recent research findings suggesting an association of exposure with increased risk of health problems, including Parkinson’s disease, reproductive and developmental issues and cancer, whilst affecting the health of soil, water, and biodiversity.

The newly launched SPRINT project (Sustainable Plant Protection Transition: A Global Health Approach), consists of a consortium of research institutes from 11 European countries alongside colleagues in Argentina and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). SPRINT will develop a Global Health Risk Assessment Toolbox to evaluate the impact of pesticides on human health and the adverse effects on plants, animals and ecosystems.

SPRINT will pool the knowledge and data from across Europe to find ways to improve the sustainable use of pesticides. Working with farmers and policymakers, researchers will find ways to support a transition to more sustainable plant protection.

Professor Violette Geissen of Wageningen University, who leads the SPRINT consortium said:

"I am excited to be starting this project, which will answer many questions of vital importance to European citizens. We have brought together scientists who have long-standing expertise to share on this topic. I am confident that we can support regulators and policymakers to make well-informed decisions to introduce more sustainable solutions to agricultural practices.

It is not an easy time to start a new project, but current issues with the use of pesticides means we cannot delay. Together we are looking forward to making a meaningful contribution to the EU's Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies."