Talking about pesticides has never been an easy task. The debate is so heavily polarised. Therefore we knew that the first campaign had to set a neutral ground, one that would be inviting and show that we are open to engagement, open to criticism.
Over the last four years, our determined efforts to ask the tough questions has led us to travel all round Europe. We engaged on social media, and online. We have met, debated with and heard from members of the public, policymakers, decision makers and civil society members.
- And we have listened to opinions and views of every kind, from highly supportive to fiercely critical.
- Not only did we expect that, we encourage it.
Check out our youtube channel to see the record of the efforts!
We have gone to Almeria to see where most of our bell peppers in Europe come from, talked to farmers that have conventional and organic farms, attended medical conferences where they debated future diets and even gone to the largest Peoples Market (Folkemodet) on the Danish island of Bornholm known for its aim to find solutions from opposing partners and listened attentively about different vision for the future of food production. What has become clear is that people are passionate about food and want to know more about how food is produced.
What is also very clear is that there is no one answer that there no one answer about how . Sometimes the answer will be ‘with pesticides’ – and in other cases, ‘without pesticides.’ But very often people simply asked why are pesticide used in the first place?
This is what we set out to do when interviewing our #FoodHeroes around Europe
In one of our most-viewed videos, we got to know Pedro Maestre Leon, who sees his role as much as a ‘guardian of the land’ as a producer of food.
Farmer Tom Bradshaw talked about managing the environment, tackling weeds and diseases, market and regulatory pressures and a lack of public understanding about what it takes to produce affordable, high quality food.
German family farmer Marcus Holtkötter, whose heritage on his land stretches back to the 16th century, also shared his story.
These farmers care deeply about ensuring they have a viable business, and about the responsibility they have in protecting the very assets that support their livelihood. Speaking with them about the need for crop protection solutions that work in balance with attentive consideration for the land they work brings into focus the every-day challenges faced by European growers.
One thing that the farmers underlined, regardless if they were an organic or a conventional farmer was that regardless of the farming method they chose – pests and diseases are always there. And our industry continues to invest heavily to find innovative solutions for them to protect their crops.
What has been clear from our activities is that the crop protection sector must do even more to increase sustainability, innovation, and efficiency to ensure that we continue to meet the demand for safe and affordable food. Particularly, we are fully aligned with long-term global and EU policy priorities including UN SDGs and the European Green Deal.