Lengthy Authorisation Processes Threatening Biocontrol Innovations and Farmer Competitiveness

IBMA Calls for Policies that Accelerate the Uptake of Biocontrol

Farmers have been slowly reducing the use of chemical pesticides across Europe since 2011 without sufficient access to alternative Plant Protection Products such as biocontrol. This is endangering productivity and generational renewal. Farmers have had enough as we see on the streets of Europe.

While the Green Deal aims to minimise the use and risk of chemical pesticides, farmers still need to control pests and diseases although their toolbox is lacking solutions to do so sustainably. Biocontrol can fill the gap within a holistic approach, working alone, in IPM and in programmes with chemical pesticides but lengthy authorisation processes for biocontrol are putting European farmers at a disadvantage. When a new biocontrol product is submitted, farmers must often wait up to ten years for them to be approved and available for use. Whereas farmers in the US and Brazil wait two or three years for a full safety evaluation and a final permit for use.

This disparity is seriously threatening competitiveness of the biocontrol industry and wider agricultural sector. The current framework makes Europe unattractive for new investment and forcing biocontrol companies whose investors require a satisfactory return on their investment, to de-prioritise Europe and to prioritise other markets.  This in turn affects job growth in the green economy and worst of all it means farmers are prevented from accessing much needed alternatives putting them under even more pressure at a time when they need our support most.

The biocontrol sector in Europe is currently worth 1.6 billion Euro and there are over 100 substances in the biocontrol pipeline due to be submitted for approval by 2028. Once in the farmer’s toolbox, they will provide effective pest and disease control on over 28 million hectares of which 23 million are arable crops, supporting Europe’s food security and strategic autonomy.  

IBMA Global calls on the next political leadership of the European Commission to ensure fast access to biocontrol solutions while ensuring safety for farmers, consumers and the environment by providing for an EU wide definition of biocontrol and:

  • Targeted changes to Regulation No 1107/2009 to grant faster market access to biocontrol products: Modifications to the current regulatory framework is a short/mid-term solution that has the potential to speed up the authorisation and time to market of biocontrol products. This can be done by creating a green priority lane for biocontrol; removing time-limited registration; re-activating article 30 on provisional authorisation and facilitating label expansion.
  • Dedicated legislation for biocontrol: A new dedicated regulation will accelerate the market access of biological control solutions as it is tailored to the assessment of biological modes of action. A new framework should ideally consider the establishment of a permanent network of biocontrol experts, changes to data requirements.
  • A new legislative package providing farmers with a comprehensive toolbox including alternatives such as biocontrol: EU farmers must have access to a comprehensive toolbox of practices and solutions, together with advice, training and support, to be able to transition to much needed resilient and sustainable farming systems. To achieve this, they need access to tools such as biocontrol along with agroecological practices. The implementation of such a toolbox should be leveraged, for example, through some of the financial instruments and incentives in the CAP (as part of the upcoming review) to achieve environmentally friendly agriculture, enabling nature and mitigating climate change and soil degradation.

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