As 2021 draws to a close, it is only natural to look back over the past 12 months to see how our sector has changed, reflect on challenges we faced, and celebrate what we achieved as an association. A new name notwithstanding, this was a big year for CropLife Europe, with fresh remits, an active policy environment, and evolving work on our commitments.
But let’s start with our identity as an association: in 2021 we became CropLife Europe, having changed our name in January from the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA). This is not just about a new title, but a different way of thinking about our purpose. Just as crops are the essential element for feeding our planet, crop protection has a crucial role in ensuring that the food is safe, affordable, sufficient and environmentally friendly. This is why as an industry we embrace change, respond positively to environmental imperatives, and champion innovation. But we will only be able to continue changing and innovating for a sustainable future if we have a regulatory framework that supports it.
When we became CropLife Europe, we expanded our mandate to include three new important areas. Alongside conventional pesticides, the new scope includes precision and digital farming; plant biotech innovation to support crops in difficult conditions or respond to dietary demands; and biopesticides that work together with conventional pesticides in IPM strategies. These news areas cover innovative technologies that are crucial for a successful evolution towards sustainable agriculture.
In turn, our legislative priorities have grown in line with this broader scope. Our biggest priority has been the paradigm shifter which is Green Deal. We believe that agriculture, like every sector, must change as we address the climate crisis. And we believe this transformation must be rooted in science.
As the European Commission continues to roll out proposals related to the Green Deal, including the Farm to Fork Strategy, CropLife Europe is working as an enabler for the EU, to make food systems more sustainable.
To this end, we have engaged actively in providing input into public consultations on the Guidance Documents for biopesticides. We welcome the proposals of adapted requirements for biopesticides – it’s a step in the right direction to have more innovative solutions on the market. To reach EU Farm to Fork objectives, we believe it is also essential that EU Regulation 1107 fosters further all innovative solutions, be it biopesticides or pesticides so that a toolbox of effective solutions are made available so farmers are able to protect their crops and support the performance of their farm.
Our work on digital and precision agriculture has led also to creating the Digital Label Compliance project, which aims to help farmers produce more sustainably, facilitate record-keeping, and ensure pesticides are used most safely and responsibly.
In July, we signed the EU Code of Conduct for Responsible Business and Marketing Practices, one of the first deliverables of the Farm to Fork Strategy and an integral part of its action plan. It sets out the actions that the “middle of the chain” actors can voluntarily commit to undertake to improve and communicate their sustainability performance.
For a summary of CropLife Europe activities in 2021 – please watch this short video.