ENDURE researchers focused on providing scientific support to policy have looked back into history at a number of national initiatives to reduce pesticide use or risk.
A paper drawing on this work, ‘Comparative analysis of pesticide action plans in five European countries’ is now available in the latest edition of Pest Management Science. It looks at how Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom addressed goal setting, stakeholder involvement and the role of research and extension in their pesticide plans.
The researchers found that programmes on pesticide use and risk reduction are all associated with a goal formulated in terms of volume, frequency of use or risk and impact. In general, it can be observed that reduction goals have evolved from volume reduction to reduction goals measured by Treatment Frequency Index (TFI) and to risk and impact reduction in more recent plans, even though the target definition varies between countries. The UK implemented a different approach based on multi-faceted initiatives each with its own respective indicators. Examples for goal setting policies from Germany, Denmark, France the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are presented.
They also found that stakeholder involvement is an important aspect in the development of national plans. In general, it can be concluded that early stakeholder involvement and agreement on an overall single quantitative and time-bound target is conducive to the successful implementation of national strategies.
In the countries studied, research and extension are essential elements in both setting realistic targets and in contributing to reaching the national goal. Research efforts are especially dedicated to studying the long-term effects of plant protection strategies, to develop new technologies with a focus on disease forecasting and decision support, and to integrate alternative control methods.
Experiences from Denmark and other Member States show that a well-developed extension system can deliver a remarkable contribution towards achieving pesticide use and risk reduction goals. No matter the approach adopted in fine , the authors conclude that Member States can gain much from sharing their diverse experience through comparisons such as this study and via international policy seminars which serve as valuable forums for exchange.
In this regard, it can be noted that the SCAR Collaborative Working Group on IPM is currently conducting an analysis based on a survey to map out existing and planned national plant protection policies, the research and extension associated with these policies and the specific research needs identified nationally. The group is also planning a survey specifically focusing on existing and planned pest monitoring and alert systems.
These various studies should help European Member States which are faced with the challenge of setting up, by December 2012, their National Action Plans based on the provisions of Directive 2009/128/EC establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides.