After almost three years of interviews, panel discussions, reflection and, of course, hard work, ENDURE’s foresight study, European Crop Protection in 2030, has been completed and can be downloaded here. Over the course of 80 pages, it establishes the current status of crop protection in European agriculture before examining five contrasting scenarios designed to help stakeholders in their decision making and in reaching shared and coordinated goals.
For those not familiar with the foresight approach, it is an increasingly popular tool for exploring the future. In common with other foresight studies, ENDURE’s study is not designed to predict or forecast what crop protection will look like in the future but to build scenarios of possible futures for European crop protection.
These have been carefully constructed based on current facts and figures, trends in major drivers and potential breakthroughs. Because crop protection is not an isolated sector of activity, these scenarios have been described within different general and agricultural contexts to explore how crop protection will be affected by these contexts and by seemingly distantly related policy decisions. These range from external factors such as world demand for agricultural products and climate change, to more internal factors such as European Union policies and their consequences for European agriculture and stakeholder strategies.
Main components of the scenarios
|Global context||Globalised and free market||Globalised and free market||Protection barriers strengthened||Actions taken to prevent a global energy crisis||Priority to local development|
|Agriculture in Europe||Competes on the commodity markets for basic crops||Competes on specialised markets||Fulfils the objective of self-sufficiency||Feeds people at low energy cost||Contributes to the territoires ' attractiveness|
|European policies on health and environment||'Polluter pays' principle||Plant protection products only used in a targeted way||Preserve the resources essential for future production||Reduce energy consumption and limit exposure to pesticides||Search for a better quality of life|
|Organisation and strategies of crop protection stakeholders||Development of 'greener' plant protection products||Innovation clusters involving farmers||Farmer efforts are socially recognised||Major changes in mobility, work habits and consumption||Residents, visitors and businesses interact for the benefit of each territoire|
The Commodity Market Player
The Specialised High-Tech Grower
The Sustainable Food Provider
The Energy-Saving Producer
The Community-Conscious Farmer
“The five scenarios we developed help consider how different global contexts and different options on the role of agriculture in Europe would impact the solutions adopted to control pests, weeds and diseases,” write the study’s authors, Emilie Labussière, Marco Barzman and Pierre Ricci, from France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research. “They all address the sustainability of crop protection, exploring contrasted ways in which the goals of agricultural production and environmental risk reduction can be reconciled as regards crop protection.
"However, these scenarios were developed mainly to study a number of questions specific to the European research community: which scientific field is a priority in each scenario, what are the key research questions, what would be the major scientific breakthroughs required etc. This study makes it possible to explore what would be, under a variety of circumstances, the technical and scientific challenges to be met.
“By identifying long-term research priorities on crop protection at national and European levels, it is the basis for developing and proposing a joint European research agenda. Because the study considers the entire crop protection system, it also makes it possible to address organisational, societal and policy challenges.”
ENDURE’s foresight study is expected to be very useful for considering these major issues, which are made particularly tricky in Europe as each Member State currently has its own set of crop protection approaches.
“Given the long lead period for the development of crop protection systems and technologies, some futures work on crop protection is very timely,” writes Professor Jeff Waage, director of the London International Development Centre, in the foreword to the ENDURE study. “The future scenarios which this study carefully creates and analyses give us much food for thought.
“Researchers and policy makers interested in European crop protection will find in this book an empowering presentation of the past, present and future of their discipline, and new ways of thinking how it should progress over the coming decades.”