ENDURE is calling for sustained and determined action to promote the design and introduction of new solutions to help develop integrated pest management (IPM) schemes that contribute to sustainable development while keeping European agriculture competitive.
The call, from ENDURE’s Executive Committee, is in response to the European Union’s strict stance on pesticides. This took a further step forward in January with the passing of legislation on a framework directive on the sustainable use of pesticides and a regulation dealing with the production and licensing of plant protection products (see news story Pesticide regulations get the green light for more details and reactions).
When the legislation package comes into force, Member States will face the challenge of introducing workable crop protection strategies that satisfy the framework directive with a narrower range of pesticides because of the regulation (some 60% of pesticides have already been withdrawn from the European market over the past 10 years). The problems of managing pesticide resistance and protecting minor crops will be two particularly difficult areas.
However, the authors note, “…the challenge must become an opportunity to develop a diversity of methods and strategies as alternatives to single-solution chemically based crop protection. An in-depth reconsideration of crop protection solutions in European agriculture cannot be avoided.”
ENDURE’s research programme includes studies on the main pest, disease and weed problems affecting the arable, perennial and protected crops responsible for the highest use of pesticides across Europe. And its results already show there is significant potential to reduce pesticide risks by using new technologies, to reduce pesticide use by using alternative methods and to reduce reliance on pesticides by improving cropping systems and establishing healthy crops less vulnerable to pests. These studies also show that only a fraction of these solutions are currently available to farmers and advisors.
ENDURE is committed to providing science-based support for the implementation of the framework directive, particularly the introduction of IPM which will be compulsory across the EU by 2014. For ENDURE, IPM is a continuously improving process drawing on a wide range of approaches, including biocontrol agents, plant genetics, cultural and mechanical methods, biotechnologies and information technologies, together with some pesticides that are still needed to address the most problematic pests and in critical situations.
This diversity of solutions is the only way to ensure crop protection remains sustainable, notes ENDURE; the continuous use of a single method to control a given pest, even if it works initially, will rapidly induce pest populations to evolve and overcome this method, whether it is a chemical one or not.
Faced with the rapid decrease in chemical options, says ENDURE, major efforts are urgently needed to increase the range of effective and affordable solutions. This requires a coordinated plan to:
To download the position paper, click below: