Press Release •  30/08/2023

Fostering the use of biocontrol solutions in the EU

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Now more than ever, European farmers need a wide range of tools to protect their crops from pest and disease pressure. Climate change is further exacerbating those issues at a time when we need to produce more sustainably. Policy initiatives such as the EU Green Deal have the ambition to make agriculture more sustainable, to reduce the risks from pesticide use and to promote alternatives to conventional pesticides.

Biocontrol products are often part of these discussions. Due to their natural origin, they are meeting a broader societal aspiration to rely more on natural solutions, which is extending beyond agriculture and food. Most biocontrol products are cleared for use in organic production and are essential for the toolbox of organic farmers. There is a wide range of biocontrol solutions including natural substances, micro-organisms, pheromones, or invertebrate biocontrol agents.

Many biocontrol solutions are already available and widely used in Europe. As Corteva, we have been a leader in natural origin pest control in Europe and around the world for decades with spinosad. A natural substance obtained via fermentation of a soil micro-organism, spinosad is one of the most widely used biocontrol solutions on over 200 crops and an indispensable tool for both conventional and organic farmers.

Research in biocontrol is always on the rise and there are a great number of innovative products that are being developed and brought to market. Corteva and other companies that are members of CropLife Europe took a commitment to invest 4 billion Euros in biocontrol by 2030 to support the Green Deal objectives. With nature as a starting point, we have many opportunities to develop products that can work well to address crop protection needs while being safe to use.

As Corteva, we are now bringing new solutions with a dedicated biologicals business. It includes a new micro-organism solution to control aflatoxins in maize, as well as biostimulants supporting nutrient use efficiency, plant stress tolerance and the circular economy.  We recently announced the acquisition of Symborg and Stoller, two biological companies that will further reinforce our offering on biocontrol and biostimulants.

Ensuring the efficacy and safety of biocontrol products is essential. Therefore, we support a regulatory framework that is proportionate to the risk that biocontrol products may pose. Farmers need products that work, and we believe there are many effective biocontrol solutions that can be used either as standalone, or in combination with conventional ones as part of Integrated Pest Management programmes.

Biocontrol products are not a one-to-one replacement for conventional pesticides. They are however the fastest growing crop protection segment, expecting to represent 25% of the overall market by 2035. In this context, supporting the uptake of biocontrol by farmers will remain key. As Corteva, we are doing our part to bring new solutions and we count on an enabling policy and regulatory framework to ensure that these products can reach the market. Biocontrol has a key role to play, along with other solutions such as innovation in plant breeding or digital and precision agriculture tools, to make EU agriculture more sustainable.

Pierre Rougier
EMEA Biologicals Leader, Corteva Agriscience 

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