CHEMICAL USE IN EU FARMING COULD FALL THANKS TO MICRO-ORGANISM RULES

PUBLISHING DATE
February 18, 2022
CATEGORIES

Chemical use in food production in the European Union could be reduced thanks to new rules that make it easier for “biopesticides” to be used instead.

Countries in the 27-member bloc have given the green light for measures that will make it easier for farmers to use plant protection products that contain micro-organisms, as an alternative to chemicals.

Fewer animal experiments may be carried out as a result of the changes, according to the European Commission.

The commission says that the loosening of the regulations – something that ties in with promises under its Farm to Fork Strategy – will make it easier for farmers to use sustainable methods to protect crops by giving a faster green light to the use of micro-organisms and plant protection products that contain them.

Micro-organisms – a term that encompasses bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa – have long been used to combat organisms, such as certain insects, that are considered pests by farmers.

In a statement, the European Commission said that before micro-organisms are used, their safety must be verified to ensure that there are “no negative consequences for human or animal health or towards non-target organisms”.

Current regulations treat the use of micro-organisms in a similar way to the use of chemicals, but in the updated regulations, the biology of each type of micro-organism will be taken into account.

CHEMICAL USE IN EU FARMING COULD FALL THANKS TO MICRO-ORGANISM RULES

“In this way the regulatory requirements for micro-organisms are made more ‘fit-for-purpose’ and flexible,” the commission statement said.

“In addition, focusing only on relevant data also means less animal testing, because fewer experiments on animals will be required.

“The biological properties of the micro-organisms play a central role for the risk assessment and many data required in the new implementing acts are conditional on the biology and ecology of the particular micro-organism.”

The rules will, the commission says, make the EU one of the most advanced regulators in the world when it comes to using micro-organisms in “biological control”, which refers to the use of one organism to control another.

Among the micro-organisms that could be approved through the approach are viruses, but the commission says this will happen only if they do not cause disease in people.

“Biological plant protection products containing micro-organisms may be less efficient than chemicals, for instance because of their narrow host range and because as living organisms they require optimal conditions to successfully control the pests. This makes them also inherently safer than chemicals,” the commission said.

Micro-organisms may be used in organic agriculture and in integrated pest management, a term used for approaches in which preference is given to alternatives to chemicals.

CHEMICAL USE IN EU FARMING COULD FALL THANKS TO MICRO-ORGANISM RULES

If there is no objection by the European Parliament, the new acts on micro-organisms are likely to become law in the fourth quarter of this year.

It comes at a time when the EU, through its Farm to Fork Strategy, is aiming to increase the amount of food in the bloc that is produced organically.

The EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy is a wide-ranging initiative that aims, among other things, to cut the amount of food waste, to reduce chemical use and to phase out the use of cages for animals. Some of the measures should, it is hoped, promote biodiversity.

In October, as reported by Sial Paris Newsroom, MEPs voted heavily in favour of a document outlining the strategy, although the vote did not lead to the introduction of new legislation.

At the time of the vote, Anja Hazekamp, a Dutch MEP who represents the Party for the Animals, said the vote heralded the eventual move away from intensive animal agriculture in the EU.

The move to end the use of cages in the EU was the result of a European citizens’ initiative called “End the Cage Age” that will cover animals such as hens, rabbits, calves and pigs.


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1 Comment
    1. Fernando Estrella

      excellenr! 👏👏👏👏👏

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