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Lack of plant protection products for minor crops to be addressed

27 December 2011

Following earlier expressions of concern from EU farmers’ organisations over the lack of registered plant protection products for relatively minor crops, the EC has financed a study to look into a problem which potentially impacts on production valued at €70 billion per annum. Problems have arisen as a result of the withdrawal of certain plant protection products as part of the EC’s pesticides review. The lack of availability of specific plant protection products is undermining yields and food quality, and impacting on farmers’ incomes. Transitional solutions involving temporary derogations have failed to substantially address the problem.

In November 2011 the completed study was subject to review by the concerned agri-food industry associations in a workshop held in Brussels. This workshop highlighted several possible areas for action, including:

  • the establishment of an EU Minor Use Programme to ensure effective communication between the concerned authorities and the concerned agri-food chains to find appropriate solutions;
  •  the establishment of ‘an EU database on plant protection products and their uses’, to help direct producers to identify relevant permitted products;
  • the ‘greater use of mutual recognition of active substances authorised at member state level’.

It is considered that concrete policy initiatives at the EU level could encourage greater research and development efforts by the plant protection product industry. Significantly, reporting from COLEACP, the ACP-EU Liaison Committee, notes that ‘increased research and development will have knock-on effects on the availability of plant protection solutions for ACP horticultural exports to the EU’.

Editorial comment

It is essential that any EU policy measures to address shortages of plant protection products for specific crops should include an active ACP dimension. Horticultural exports have grown in significance for many ACP countries in the past 15 years, while for certain products the ACP represents a major source of supply.

Ensuring that any EU policies in this area include a significant ACP dimension (e.g. in providing access to databases, in promoting mutual recognition and in finding practical solutions to specific problems) can be seen as an important manifestation of the EU’s policy commitment under the Lisbon Treaty to take all effects of its policies on developing countries into account.


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