Greening of crop care
Farm to Fork
An important part of making agriculture more sustainable is the greening of crop care, specifically the use of crop protection products. To a large extent this will be driven by the European Green Deal, to which the Netherlands has also committed. Within the European Green Deal five focus areas have been identified: Ensuring healthy, affordable and sustainable food for Europeans, Tackling climate change, Protecting the environment and biodiversity, Fair economic returns throughout the food chain and More organic farming. The Farm to Fork strategy is an important cornerstone of this Green Deal. Specifically for crop protection, Farm to Fork has the following goals: the use and risk of crop protection products should be reduced by 50 percent by 2030. In addition, the use of more hazardous crop protection products must be reduced by 50 percent. Another Farm to Fork goal is to have organic farming on 25 percent of all farmland by 2030. In addition, Farm to Fork has goals in the areas of nutrient surplus and antimicrobial resistance. There have been many and varied reactions to the objectives. The strategy has not yet been determined and the elaboration of the objectives per country is still unknown. This will be the subject of further extensive discussions in the member states and the European Parliament.
Promoting the use of ‘green crop protection products’ prompted the Ministry of Economic Affairs to set up a Green Deal on Green Crop Protection Products with LTO, Natuur& Milieu, Bionext, Artemis and Nefyto and Ctgb in 2014. The Green Deal project counts among the “green” crop protection products agents of natural origin with an estimated low risk for humans, animals, the environment and non-target organisms. However, the introduction of this type of products has so far been less successful than hoped, partly because it is simply not that simple to develop an effective green product and partly because the regulation on admission is delayed and not optimally designed for this type of product. The current situation can be called alarming; plant protection products are rapidly disappearing from the market due to increasingly strict regulations for which no non-chemical alternatives are available yet. If they are already available, they require specific knowledge and more effort to choose preventive solutions. As a result, growers are getting into more and more trouble because they can no longer cope with problems. Cebeco Agro is committed to a thorough bottleneck analysis in order to then support, in consultation with the authorities, solutions to these bottlenecks where possible in the form of exemptions or KUGs (minor uses of Crop Protection). At the same time Cebeco Agro is working with partners to bring green crop protection products to the market. For more information, please contact Cebeco Agro.
While plant protection products have been strictly regulated for years and biocontrol products have also been brought under this (the current EU Regulation 1107/2009/EC), biostimulants remain in a twilight zone in the EU and beyond. It is undesirable that products without a sound claim of action and without consideration of a safety risk are freely marketed. Meanwhile, work is underway on a regulatory framework for biostimulants. This requires a clear definition, and this has been established at the EU level. The EU definition of biostimulants is: “a product which stimulates the nutritional processes of a plant, independently of the nutrient content of the product, with the sole purpose of improving one or more of the following characteristics of the plant or its rhizosphere:
a) the efficiency of use of nutrients;
b) tolerance to abiotic stress;
c) quality characteristics;
d) availability of nutrients retained in the soil or rhizosphere’.
This definition is the reason that biostimulants could be linked to the fertilizer legislation 2003/2003/EC, now updated to 2019/1009/EC, and coming into force in 2022. In July 2022, biostimulants must be registered according to the new legislation, however, the exact details of this legislation are not yet fully clear. A legislation requires guidelines for substance and product registration. The European Biostimulant Industry Council (EBIC) has made proposals for this: the claim of a biostimulant must be a verifiable effect on one or more of the four aspects of the 2019/1009/EC definition, without the effect having to occur under all circumstances. Producers must therefore indicate on the product the conditions under which the user may expect an effect. As the product is often complex, the studies to support these claims need to be highly flexible with variables such as type of crops, cultivation conditions, soil type, etc. In early 2020, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) was given the task by the European Commission to draw up standards before mid 2022, to draw up standards, with which applicants must comply in order to have their product classified as a biostimulant under 2009/1009/EC, with a CE certificate for free marketing in the EU. Standards are needed for sampling, claims, safety and labeling. For this, the CEN involves the national standardization authorities (such as the NEN in the Netherlands), who in turn involve producers and other stakeholders from their countries. The CEN expects that 32 standards will have to be developed to get the law operational in 2022. A complicated job, we will keep you posted.