A top priority for Luc Peeters from Belgium, re-elected as Chairman of Copa and Cogeca Phytosanitary Questions Working Party, is to make sure that science comes first in EU decisions concerning authorisation of plant protection products (PPPs) on the market and that sufficient supplies of PPPs on the market are secured.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Peeters said “A priority for us is about crop protection. We need PPPs to put in farmers' tool box to ensure that we have a competitive, sustainable sector capable of meeting growing world food demand. Science must come first”.

This was supported by new Vice-Chairman Guy Smith, farmer and Vice-President of the NFU of England and Wales, who said “If we lose key PPPs – glyphosate, neonicotinoid seed treatments– we will lose our competitiveness via a vis non-EU countries. We have strong scientific evidence from both the EU food safety and chemicals agencies (EFSA and ECHA) to support the re-authorization of the widely-used weed killer glyphosate for 15 years as there are no safety concerns. Copa and Cogeca is an important platform to show a strong, united voice across Europe for this”.

“Another reason why it is important to keep PPPs is to fight the olive grove killer Xylella fastidosa which is having a devastating impact on our crops”, newly elected Vice-Chairperson Patricia de Almandoz Fraile from the Spanish Cooperative Organisation Cooperative Agro-Alimentarias added.

Mr Peeters from Boerenbond and manager of the Belgian fruit and vegetable cooperative Belorta drew attention too to the lack of plant protection products for speciality crops and minor uses. “Speciality crops” applies in particular to fruit and vegetables, seeds, flowers and plants amongst others and represent 70 billion euros annually. There is a foreseeable reduction in available solutions for their protection, posing major difficulties for their cultivation. Action must be stepped up. It is also important that the coordination facility for these crops has sufficient resources. It is crucial too to ensure that the new EU Plant Health Law and delegated acts are implemented properly”, he stressed.

“Finally, I want to make sure that the voice of farmers and agri-cooperatives is heard in the REFIT evaluation of EU legislation on PPPs and pesticide residues”, he concluded.

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