How can the seed sector contribute to the sustainable use of pesticides?

On behalf of the EU seed sector, Euroseeds highlights the importance of seed treatment technologies in reaching the goals of the Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Pesticide (SUR). "Seed treatment technologies are fully compatible with the integrated pest management (IPM) principles while contributing to delivering resilient and healthy plants for the benefit of society," the Euroseeds team explains. 

"The Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR) is a crucial instrument to reach the aims of the EU Farm to Fork strategy. The Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation foresees a full inclusion of IPM." To this matter, Euroseeds points out that see treatment can be particularly useful to provide protection to young plants during a vulnerable stage of their development. "Using a targeted approach, see treatment reduces the application surface and limits the potential exposure to non-target organisms don't he soil or in the air." 

Yet, not everyone in the industry was equally enthusiastic, especially the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA). IFA Environment Chair Paul O'Brien said the latest move by the EU Commission on plant protection is another example of mixed messages to farmers.

"It's only a few months since tillage farmers were being encouraged to sow more crops in response to the impact on the supply chain caused by the war in Ukraine. Farmers who have invested in extra crops need to protect those crops if they are to make a return," he said.

Paul O'Brien said fears around food security are well-founded and have to feature in any policy decision.

"Commissioner Wojciechowski was explicit when he addressed our National Council last month: 'the EU Farm to Fork policy will have to be re-visited in light of food security concerns,'" he said.

"Yet again, we have the Commission bringing forward changes, but only vague assurances around support for farmers. Their unwillingness to carry out a full assessment is a big worry for farmers," he said.

IFA Grain Chair Kieran McEvoy said growing crops in a temperate climate like Ireland carries risks, which can be mitigated with the use of plant protection.

"It's an important tool for farmers. Without it, yields will drop off significantly. The Joint Research Centre estimates they could drop by as much as 50%," he said.

"We want to promote the use of native grains as much as possible. Reducing crop production across the EU, only for other global regions to step in, would be a massive mistake," he said.


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