Crop protection is biodiversity protection

Maximising productivity on the farmland that we have reduces demand for new farmland. (Photo: 'Aerial Photography' flickr)
Maximising productivity on the farmland that we have reduces demand for new farmland. (Photo: 'Aerial Photography' flickr)

More food without more farmland - crop protection solutions for biological diversity

How can an industry whose products target and kill pests and diseases contribute to the conservation of biological diversity? “The sustainable use of natural resources is a part of biodiversity conservation,” explains Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA). “In Europe, biodiversity is mostly threatened by the conversion of natural habitats to farmland;” continued Schmider, “it is the products of the crop protection industry - the often vilified pesticides - that allow Europe’s farmers to maximise productivity on the existing agricultural land base and avoid turning forests into farms.

In a year when food prices and food security are enjoying frequent headlines, ECPA repeats its call for more food, not more farmland, and reminds that biodiversity is an essential part of the food production process, providing high-value ecosystem services. “Agriculture and biodiversity are inseparable,” stresses Schmider “our industry is committed to continue its support of stewardship measures for the protection of biodiversity within the arable landscape, as well the protection of water and soil. Without healthy soil, clean and abundant fresh water and the ecosystem services provided by biodiversity, we would quite simply struggle to produce enough food.

Expanding our agricultural production outside of Europe is not the answer,” adds Schmider, referring to the European tendency for ‘land grab’ that already sees an area of Africa the size of Germany devoted to growing food for the European market. “Growing our food outside of Europe is not the best option for our economy – and we are exporting a problem rather than applying the solutions that we are technologically equipped to deliver. It is our International Biodiversity Day mantra” concludes Schmider.

Crop protection products help make sustainable use of natural resources; maximising productivity on the farmland that we have means crop protection is biodiversity protection – more food, less farm.