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Pesticides and sustainable agriculture?

‘Hungry for Change’ event explores role of crop protection in modern farmingRepresentatives of the European crop protection industry, European farmers associations, environmental NGOs and European policymakers were among some 120 participants who gathered in Brussels for a lively debate on the future of agriculture in Europe.Hosted by the European Crop Protection Association, the event, ‘Hungry for Change: Pesticides and Sustainable Agriculture’, looked at how productive agriculture can achieve sustainability goals – protecting health, the environment and biodiversity – while allowing Europe’s farmers to remain competitive and help feed a growing global population.“The world faces a major challenge in the coming decades,” said Jean-Charles Bocquet, ECPA Director General, in remarks at the conference. “We need to feed a rapidly growing population while relying on ever-scarcer natural resources and protecting the environment. Europe has a responsibility to address that challenge by improving food security and ensuring the contribution of sustainable, productive agriculture to the environment and the economy. To do that, Europe must be a world-leader in R&D, innovation, and the sustainable production of high quality and affordable food.”Speakers at the meeting discussed the role of pesticides in helping to achieve sustainable productive agriculture. They explored the ways Europe can better foster innovation and competitiveness, and looked at how the crop protection industry is already contributing through several projects to a sustainable and globally competitive farming future.“European agricultural productivity is being affected by the current EU regulatory framework, with its emphasis on hazard-based legislation and often-inconsistent application of the precautionary principle,” said Jean-Philippe Azoulay, ECPA President. “This risks denying farmers the innovative solutions they need to fight the pests and diseases that threaten their crops.”“Europe must play a role in feeding the world; we cannot leave it to others to meet the challenge,” said Azoulay. “But to achieve this, the EU needs a new policy framework that is friendlier to innovation, jobs and growth, and that takes a balanced, science-based approach to regulation.”“Europe’s farmers need innovative solutions in today’s changing global market, and we need a regulatory framework that encourages this innovation,” said Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General of Copa-Cogeca, which represents EU farmers and farming cooperatives. “Farmers hate it when agricultural research and development leaves Europe.”David Cary, Executive Director of the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association, which represents companies making alternative, biological and non-chemical plant protection, said: “To be sustainable, you can’t just look at one sector or another. You have to look at every solution. ECPA and IBMA have put forward a lot of initiatives to ensure we have sustainable agriculture. We want to work in a very concentrated way to make sure we are filling the farmer’s toolbox with lower risk products instead of emptying it.”In addition to Jean-Philippe Azoulay and Jean-Charles Bouquet of ECPA, speakers at the event included: Piet Wit, International Union for the Conservation of Nature; Pekka Pesonen, COPA-COGECA; David Cary, International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association; Peter Campbell , Syngenta; Don Pendergrast, National Farmers Union; and Euros Jones, ECPA.To discover more about ECPA’s policy vision for boosting innovation in Europe, visit