The European Commission has been asked by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to propose a revision of EU rules on the approval of biopesticides, in order to accelerate their adoption.
Pesticides such as those made from bio-organisms and pheromones could replace synthetic ones, but many member states are still reluctant to authorise them, according to a newly adopted European Parliament resolution.
The resolution notes that only seven active substances classified as “low risk” alternatives have been approved for use so far across the EU. MEPs have therefore urged the Commission to put forward proposals to revise the rules before the end of 2018, in order to “fast-track” the evaluation, authorisation and registration of ‘low-risk’ pesticides, while keeping assessment criteria “at a high level.”
Low-risk products such as those based on micro-organisms, botanicals, bio-derived chemicals, or natural semiochemicals such as pheromones or essential oils, “may constitute a viable alternative” to conventional pesticides and contribute to more sustainable farming methods, MEPs have argued.
Biostimulants need further clarity
Meanwhile, a European Commission proposal to create a regulation on organic and waste-based fertilisers must not “unduly discriminate” against processed animal manure and must be “better reconciled” with rapid developments on biostimulants, said lead agriculture committee (ComAgri) Dutch MEP Jan Huitema.
The proposal seeks to set common rules on converting bio-waste into raw materials that can be used to manufacture fertilising products. Bio-wastes could replace up to 30% of non-organic fertilisers. If the new regulation is adopted later this year as scheduled, it should become effective in 2019.
The existing fertilisers regulation dates to 2003 and deals mainly with conventional, non-organic fertilisers and does not deal with so-called ‘innovative fertilising products’. It allows the free movement of products made from synthetic raw materials but it does not include a clearing procedure for organic fertilisers – which the new regulation aims to do.
Huitema however claims that the Commission proposal “is not entirely reconciled” with rapid developments on biostimulants – formulations of compounds, substances and micro-organisms that are applied to plants or soils to improve crop vigour, yields, quality and tolerance of abiotic stresses.
He argues that under the current proposal, there are no clear requirements for the safety evaluation to assess if newly discovered micro-organisms are safe to be used as biostimulants in certified fertiliser products. “There should be clear requirements which producers of microbial plant biostimulants have to comply with. This delays product innovation whereas producers need clarity”, Huitema concludes.