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Europe’s crop protection industry lays out 2030 Commitments

Europe's crop protection industry lays out 2030 Commitments
© ECPA

 

Europe’s crop protection industry (ECPA) has established a set of ambitious commitments to support Europe’s new Green Deal, including an investment of over €14 billion in new technologies and more sustainable products by 2030. In addition to this investment, ECPA also plans to ramp up waste collection and increase the levels of training among farmers in Europe as part of its response to the EU’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

Géraldine Kutas, European Crop Protection Association Director General, said: “With its ambitious European Green Deal, the European Commission has fired the starting gun for the EU’s run towards a more sustainable, climate-neutral future. We are serious about contributing and aligning with the Green Deal policy initiatives which is why our companies have joined together to set our own voluntary, sector-specific, measurable goals in their support.”

The six commitments adopted by ECPA will guide the sector for the next decade in key areas of agricultural innovative technologies, the circular economy and better protection of people and the environment:

  • Innovation & Investment: By supporting innovation and the deployment of digital and precision tools as well as biopesticides, we further the European Commission’s ambition of a digital and green recovery. By 2030 we will be investing 10 billion euros into innovation in precision and digital technologies and 4 billion euros into innovation in biopesticides. All the investment the industry is committing to is only useful if there is the appropriate regulatory framework allowing the innovation to reach the European farmers.

  • Circular Economy: By increasing the collection rate of the empty pesticides plastic containers to 75% and establishing a collection scheme in the EU Member States that currently have none by 2025, we will contribute to the EU’s goal of a circular economy that aims at minimising waste and resources used, lessening the environmental impact of plastic packaging.

  • Protecting People & Environment: By training farmers on the implementation of Integrated Pest Management, water protection and the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE), our industry desires to further minimise exposure and reduce the risks of pesticide use, all while contributing to the overall goals of the Sustainable Use Directive and EU Farm to Fork strategies aiming at producing enough food sustainably.

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Tropic Biosciences partners with BASF to develop innovative traits for growers

Tropic Biosciences partners with BASF to develop innovative traits for growers
PRESS RELEASE

 

Norwich, U.K., July 23 2020 — Tropic Biosciences announces their research agreement with BASF to utilize Tropic’s ground-breaking GEiGS™ (Gene Editing induced Gene Silencing) technology to develop traits to address growers’ most critical challenges in protecting crops.

The collaboration applies the Tropic Bios-cience GEiGS™ platform within BASF’s strate-gic crop varieties and utilizes BASF’s expertise in the development of agricultural traits. “Our R&D teams must continue to innovate to address the most pressing challenges in agriculture, so we welcome this new tool to accelerate the delivery of sustainable trait solutions to farmers,” said Brian Vande Berg, Vice President of Trait Research in BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division. Under the agreement, Tropic Biosciences will generate GEiGS™ candidates that have the possibility to enter the BASF discovery pipeline for deve-lopment of disease and pest control traits.

Jack Peart, Chief Commercial Officer of Tropic Biosciences, commented: “We are excited to make the GEiGS™ platform available for use by other companies and we are delighted to see it being applied not only in tropical crops but now in row crops through our collaboration with BASF.” He went on to say that “GEiGS™ is a powerful platform that allows us to address some of the most critical disease and pest pressures faced by growers today.” 

GEiGS™ technology utilizes established genome editing tools to make precise and specific changes to only a few nucleotides within non-coding genomic locations of a host organism. These changes redirect RNA interference (RNAi, also Gene Silencing) activity of non-coding genes towards target genes, including those belonging to pathogens and pests. The approach does not depend on the introduction of foreign genes into the host genome.

Tropic Biosciences developed GEiGS™ to support its own product development, for example to produce lines of banana that are resistant to Panama disease, a devastating fungal disease that is threatening production globally. “Our aim is to help farmers increase productivity and improve sustainable environmental practices for tropical crops by applying cutting-edge gene editing technologies,” said Gilad Gershon, CEO of Tropic Biosciences. “GEiGS™ is attractive for us as it radically expands our ability to develop and commercialize non-transgenic disease resistance traits.”

About Tropic Biosciences

Tropic Biosciences is a UK-based biotechnology company focused on utilizing advanced plant breeding and gene editing technologies to develop high-performing commercial tropical crops, namely coffee and bananas. It employs over 60 industry-leading professionals and is headquartered at the renowned Norwich Research Park, where it has access to cutting-edge facilities and a highly qualified workforce. For more information please visit www.tropicbioscience.com

About BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division

With a rapidly growing population, the world is increasingly dependent on our ability to develop and maintain sustainable agriculture and healthy environments. Working with farmers, agricultural professionals, pest management experts and others, it is our role to help make this possible. That’s why we invest in a strong R&D pipeline and broad portfolio, including seeds and traits, chemical and biological crop protection, soil management, plant health, pest control and digital farming. With expert teams in the lab, field, office and in production, we connect innovative thinking and down-to-earth action to create real world ideas that work – for farmers, society and the planet. In 2019, our division generated sales of €7.8 billion. For more information, please visit www.agriculture.basf.com or any of our social media channels.

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The RISE Foundation Project: “The Future of crop protection in Europe”

The RISE Foundation Project: “The Future of crop protection in Europe”

                                                                                                                                                                                           Press release

RISE is an independent public utility foundation. Their mission is to envisage and promote a more sustainable agricultural system in Europe; one that engages fully with the circular economy, provides safe and healthy food whilst developing our natural capital. It creates jobs and encourages investment in rural areas, and conserves our traditions and cultural heritage.

RISE works as a think tank, bringing together experts to address key environmental/ agricultural challenges in Europe and develops high quality accessible research reports with clear recommendations for policymakers.

As an independent non-profit organization, RISE holds a rare position in that it can provide policymakers with entirely impartial and accessible evidence-based opinions and recommendations on key policy developments and agricultural challenges of the day.

 Crop protection

The way crop protection is conducted today is considered unsustainable by many stakeholders. ‘Change must come,’ says RISE’s Chairman Janez Potocnik, the former EU Commissioner for Science and Research and for the Environment.  A system change is required that would restore natural protection and resilience. A study was set up on how to make such a transition work and to provide policy recommendations for it.

This study is supported by a number of organizations of which Koppert is the only one with a focus on biocontrol and bioprotectant technologies.

The outcome of this science-based study is reflected in a report that will be presented on April 20 to policymakers. It will also be circulated to more than 10,000 stakeholders in the agriculture and environment sphere, and in the media. It will also be presented to key politicians in the EU before the launch. This report will be an important one, amongst many others, to discuss that a change is needed in agriculture and crop protection. Not just in agriculture, but also in areas that have a strong influence on land use, the crops grown and their purposes, and human food habits. Changes are also occurring in these fields and need to happen in order to have a healthy human population and keep the planet in balance. The extensive report addresses the following issues in five chapters:

  • The concerns around crop protection
  • An examination on how the legislation functions
  • Why change is unavoidable
  • A description of ways to go through a transitional development path
  • Policy recommendations

The key question that is addressed is whether we can continue with the crop protection system that we have today, or whether there is a need to change the current production system? The answer is evident that the current system is not sustainable and that a new food production system has to be developed. The report concludes that a new goal for crop protection should follow: to re-establish ecosystem functions on agricultural land to provide nature-based solutions for pest, disease and weed threats, and to utilise all means to enable a substantial fall in the harm caused to health and environment by the use of PPPs. 

This requires a transition strategy that needs to be based on five elements:

  • Encourage the adoption of sustainable farming principles and practices, and restore ecosystem functions.
  • Drive Integrated Pest Management as the coordinating framework.
  • Encourage biocontrol where possible.
  • Deploy precision agriculture, robotics, artificial intelligence and big data where appropriate.
  • Internalise pest and disease resistance through breeding.

Koppert Biological Systems in particular underlines the development of appropriate IPM programmes for each cropping system, even for each farmer, where knowledge and measures emphasize the prevention of pest and diseases, using biocontrol tools to intervene when necessary. These bioprotectants safeguard the ecosystem services in the crops, soil and surroundings and maintain the balance and resilience as much as possible. New technologies can assist this system and optimize timing of actions.

‘A new paradigm needs to come into place where IPM (integrated pest management), INM (integrated Nutrient management), and ITM (integrated technology management) will lead us to ICM (integrated crop management).  Biological solutions will be the driving force for sustainable and healthy food production systems. The European regulatory framework needs to be adapted to this new area. As Koppert we aim to contribute to the health of the people and the planet, to make agriculture healthier, safer and more productive,’ states Peter Maes, Corporate Marketing Director at Koppert.

Many policy measures are needed for such a transition to be adopted and be successful over time. Engagement of the many stakeholders needs to be achieved and new policies adjusted to reach this transition. Regulatory innovations will be required as well as research into new methods and tools. A list of policy recommendations which should be implemented in the EU New Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy to create this new agricultural system for the next decades has been proposed.

Dr Willem Ravensberg, Koppert’s Corporate Sr Governmental and Regulatory Affairs Manager and former President of the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA)

‘While current crop protection methods are recognized as not sustainable, IPM and biocontrol can offer the natural solutions for a new sustainable crop protection system that respects human safety, the environment and biodiversity whilst helping to safeguard our people and the planet.’

The full report will be available on May 19th with the title: Crop Protection & the EU Food System: where are they going? The launch event will take place through an online webinar, accessible by invitation only. If you are interested in attending, do not hesitate to contact Rise Foundation @risefoundation.eu After the launch event, the report and the recording of the webinar will be made available online.http://www.risefoundation.eu/news/213-launch-of-our-latest-report

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New Australian project for protected cropping 

New Australian project for protected cropping 

 

New Australian project for protected cropping 

The Australian government has launched a new project to support the country’s growers wishing to employ protected cropping systems to better cope with the extreme heat and insects. The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, and Queensland senator, Susan McDonald announced the initiative which is supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia (CRCNA). The project is estimated to cost around US$300,000 over two years.

Andrews said, “With protected cropping being the fastest growing food producing sector in Australia, with a farm-gate value of around AU$1.8bn each year, it makes good sense to look at how we expand use in northern Australia.”

Australia’s horticulture exports rose 3% in 2019 and are worth US$7.9bn.

TAGS: Australia, crop protection

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A promising outlook for Spain’s peach and nectarine campaign

A promising outlook for Spain’s peach and nectarine campaign

The first estimates for the 2019 Spanish peach and nectarine are in and so far so good. Normal fruit volumes are expected with no loss due to frost damage. The good weather from the beginning of the season has led to good flower set. Production levels are expected to be similar to those of 2018. The total size of the crop for all peach and nectarine varieties is expected to reach 1.58 million tons, up slightly from the 2018 level of 1.49 million tons.

The stone fruit market has not been so favourable in April and May due to the fact the huge Russian market remains closed and alternative overseas markets are not an option.

Crop estimates (tons)

PRODUCT

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

PREV 2019

2019 vs 18

2019 vs 17

2019 vs (media 5 años) 

 Peach

301.828

302.701

314.964

354.032

311.066

329.022

106%

93%

104%

Saturn Peach

254.783

263.227

303.307

354.741

301.388

324.186

108%

91%

110%

Flat Nectarine

257.764

275.658

287.370

305.205

308.957

307.041

99%

101%

107%

Nectarine

543.980

555.845

599.862

692.802

567.077

623.141

110%

90%

105%

TOTAL

1.358.355

1.397.431

1.505.503

1.706.780

1.488.488

1.583.390

106%

93%

106%

Source: Cooperativas Agro-Alimentarias

 

 

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ECPA project sharing best practices on residue reduction

ECPA is transferring the knowledge gained in Almeria to the Antalya region of Turkey so it can benefit from the Spanish success in improving residue management.

Almeria’s move from a fairly high rate of exceedance of maximum residue levels (MRLs) to now being among the best in class in Mediterranean greenhouse production is a success story the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) is using to help farmers in other areas. Under its residue management project, ECPA is transferring the knowledge gained in Almeria to the Antalya region of Turkey so it can benefit from the Spanish success in improving residue management. The project focuses on tomatoes and peppers as they are among the most widely consumed vegetables and, because of tough climatic conditions, they are also difficult to manage in terms of controlling diseases and pests.

Responding to consumer concerns about residues

The 2013 annual residue report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) showed the vast majority of food contains no measurable residues, or residues below MRLs. However, the recent Eurobarometer shows that the issue of pesticide residues in food is one that consumers are particularly concerned about. “We want to try to address this through our residue management project,” said ECPA director general Jean-Charles Bocquet, “and for consumers to feel confident about the food they eat.” The project aims to support the reduction of residues by promoting use of integrated pest management (IPM) principles and good agricultural practices.

Public affairs director Graeme Taylor told ED that ECPA takes consumer concerns seriously – hence its commitment to address them through dedicated activities. “We want to contribute to fostering consumer trust by addressing and explaining the issues of pesticide residues and residues management. We want to explain that European food is safe and show consumers what it takes to grow a healthy plant, explain why farmers need crop protection products or why sometimes pesticide residues occur. And most importantly, present what our industry and farmers are doing to minimise, if not eliminate, any risk for the consumer,” he said.

ECPA public affairs director Graeme Taylor

Transfer of best practice: train-the-trainers concept the key

The project harnesses the train the trainer concept and started with the training of 7 master trainers in Spain, who have gone on to train trainers for Turkey. Since its start in 2013, there have been 135 attendees in training held in Antalya, with further 60 participants at two sessions held in November 2015. Feedback showed the training was found useful, particularly the topics of IPM, biologicals and sulfur sublimation.

Future activities

Taylor said ECPA is now looking to share the experience and knowledge gained in Spain and Turkey with other EU countries.

Among other goals are:

  • Cooperation and use of synergies with other ECPA projects and initiatives
  • Given imports from third countries are more likely to show MRL exceedances – cooperation with other institutions and projects in countries outside EU (e.g. CropLife International)
  • Extension of tailor-made training from advisors to farmers

Food safety is not an area of competition but an area of cooperation and we want to share lessons learned with other partners,” Taylor said.

For more information: http://www.ecpa.eu/

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EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility underway

An EU secretariat has now been set up to share information and experience and coordinate Member State work on making more plant protection products available to growers for minor uses and specialty crops.

An EU secretariat has now been set up to share information and experience and coordinate Member State work on making more plant protection products available to growers for minor uses and specialty crops.

Such niche crops may be of a high economic value for farmers, but are usually of low economic interest for the agro-pesticide industry, according to a press release from the new EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility.

Its mission is “to enable farmers in the EU to produce high quality crops by filling minor uses gaps through efficient collaboration to improve availability of chemical and non-chemical tools within an integrated pest management (IPM) framework.”

As of September 1, Jeroen Meeussen has been the coordinator for the new EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility. Speaking from his office in Paris, Jeroen said he looks forward to the challenge of improving co-ordination between countries, grower organisations and industry to develop solutions for minor uses.

“One of my priorities will be to liaise with applicants, growers, Member States and other relevant stakeholders. I will also be drawing on experience from other minor use projects around the globe,” he said.

Jointly funded, initially, by the EU and the governments of France, Germany and the Netherlands, the facility is hosted by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) in Paris. The EU has committed to provide 50% of the costs for the first three years.

The main task of the facility will be to address gaps in pest and disease control measures available for so called ‘minor crops’ and for minor pests on other crops for farmers as well as for gardeners.

Visit the new EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility website.

More articles on minor uses here.

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ECPA in defence of minor uses

The European Crop Protection Association is collaborating with European partners in a bid to increase solutions allowable for minor crops

The European Crop Protection Association is collaborating with European partners in a bid to increase solutions allowable for minor crops

As work gets underway to set up a European secretariat on minor uses, the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) is continuing to work with various agri food partners to advance the addition of new options in crop protection for so-called minor crops.

Making more plant protection products available to growers for minor uses and specialty crops remains a pressing need in Europe. As the Belgium-based organisation says, in EU jargon fruit and vegetables may be referred to as ‘minor crops’, but to farmers and consumers they are of major interest and require tailor-made protection from pests and diseases.

‘Minor uses’ is the term often used to describe plant protection solutions for specialty crops, usually where the crop is considered of low economic importance at national level (minor crop). The term is also used in regard to specific uses for major crops when a particular disease, pest or weed occurs only in limited situations and is considered of limited importance (minor pest). It should be noted a minor use in one country may be a major use in another country (each country is responsible for defining its minor uses).

Crops needing solutions include favourites like Bok choy in the Netherlands. spring onions in the UK

According to ECPA, minor use crops are facing an increasing lack of economically viable pesticide solutions for their protection. ECPA’s Director of Stewardship and Sustainability, Claudia Michel, told ED it is engaged in achieving an increase in solutions available for minor crops, not just major fruit and vegetable crops.

“ECPA is collaborating with different partners in agri-food change at the EU level and working towards the acceleration of the registration of such products,” she said. “This can often involve mutual recognition or extension of existing uses for minor use.”

Examples of such fruit and vegetable crops particularly in need of such options are Bok choy in the Netherlands, spring onions in the UK and hops in Germany, she said.

“It’s important not just to protect crops,” Michel stressed, “but to have a proper strategy and for resistance management you need a good amount of solutions you can apply.” Michel welcomed moves underway in the EU to establish a minor use secretariat to address the issue in a more coherent way.

EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility

The European Commission, France, Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to jointly fund the secretariat – also known as the EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility. Its main tasks will include the sharing of information and experience and coordination of Member State work on minor uses.

The Paris-based European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) will host the secretariat and at time of writing was advertising to recruit a coordinator for it, with a closing time for applications of noon on June 15.

Minor use, major value

To illustrate the problems facing minor uses solutions, ECPA has helped develop postcards showcasing the pests and diseases threatening some fruit and vegetables and the possible consequences without tailor-made solutions.
Here are excerpts from one:

Crop: Bell pepper (genus Capsicum)
Pest threat: Xanthomonas, a genus of Proteobacteria
Region at risk: Portugal
Crop area at risk: 1,700 ha

Potential pest impact: Bacterial spot is one of the most devastating diseases in pepper & tomato crops grown in warm, moist environments. Once present it is almost impossible to control.
What’s the problem? If the EU fails to support the technologies required to produce speciality crops, bell peppers and other popular fruits and vegetables may no longer be grown in Europe.

ECPA

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What’s happening with crop protection in Europe?

ECPA is the professional body that represents the plant protection sector in Europe

Q&A with Jean Charles Bocquet, managing director of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA)

1/ What is ECPA and what are its objectives?
ECPA is the professional body that represents the plant protection sector in Europe. Its members (21 companies and 32 national associations) are committed to the daily challenge of developing and promoting modern solutions that protect crops against pests and diseases in order to secure the production of healthy food that is financially viable. ECPA members support science-based regulatory measures that include evaluations and management decisions based on a risk-benefit analysis of all the proposed solutions in order to guarantee a high level of safety for humans and for the environment.

2/ What issues do the different projects ECPA is working on tackle?
Which are aimed at producers and which at consumers? ECPA and its members’ daily involvement with regulatory documents and product support is not sufficiently known by the public at large or by politicians. In order to change this, we launched our HUNGRY FOR CHANGE project (known in French as soif de changement) at the end of 2011. This is a clear expression of our will to change things, not only in relation to civil society but also internally, through more sharing of all the initiatives on the ground. For instance, we are coordinating 12 specific projects in the fields of food, water, biodiversity and health. All these projects aim to prove through concrete actions that modern plant protection solutions make it possible to reconcile competitiveness and sustainability. They are often implemented in partnership with the authorities, research institutes, distributors and farmers, and also with NGOs. Their aim is to promote the collective development of good product use practices through training and a network of demonstration farms. We want to work with all the stakeholders involved in sustainable production methods.

3/ Do ECPA projects pay particular attention to the fruit and vegetable sector?
The fruit and vegetable sector is important for ECPA in more than one way! Many crops are sold “as is” in fruit and vegetable sections or directly by the farmers in short chain circuits. With the farmers, we therefore need to ensure that the product use instructions have been followed properly in order to comply with the maximum residue level regulations. That is why we have set up specific programs to train farmers and technical staff in how to comply with good practice. We also know that many crops lack effective solutions for combating numerous parasite problems. We welcome the new European secretariat to coordinate minor uses, set up thanks to the collective efforts of the sector. The European commission, France, the Netherlands and Germany have collectively pledged €700,000 to ensure the start-up of this secretariat and the ECPA members have undertaken to contribute their technical expertise in order to address unforeseen minor uses as quickly as possible, thanks to our experience in the different member states.

4/ What is your view of the evolution of complementary means of protection?
Society’s expectations favour using non-chemical plant protection methods. This is also one of the aims of the ECOPHYTO plan in France. At the European level, integrated crop protection has been part of the member states’ commitments since January 2014. ECPA and its members did not wait for these political decisions before committing themselves to researching and readying real solution packages: variety research for the seed teams, biocontrol solutions, decision-making tools, and chemical solutions obtained by pure synthesis or by copying natural molecules such as pheromones. An increasingly important part of our work is to seek out biocontrol products. In some member states, nearly 50% of the biocontrol products or the solutions approved for organic farming are supplied by ECPA members. Nowadays, this complementarity of control methods, combining agronomy, biocontrol, monitoring and decision-making and chemical control, responds to the objective of competitive, sustainable fruit and vegetable growing.

MLC

From edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.