Mediterranean greenhouse production – lessons learned
Crop protection industry initiates project to contribute to minimise pesticide residues in food
Cooperation with the Experimental Station Cajamar Caja Rural 'Las Palmerillas' to enhance best practice transfer to minimise pesticide residues in food
Trust – it’s one of our food’s most vital ingredients. We all expect to eat healthy, safe and affordable food. Yet, many consumers are concerned about pesticide residues in food despite the proven increase in safety of the food grown in Europe. Year after year the results of the Annual Report on Pesticide Residues carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are showing this.
Improvements have been made within the past years; exceedances of Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) have diminished and residues in general have been declining. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done and the crop protection industry takes consumers’ concerns about residues in food very seriously.
Therefore, the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) has launched a dedicated project on Residue Management. This project falls within ECPA’s overall new initiative to develop joint industry projects which contribute towards a fully sustainable European agriculture in a manner that meets consumer expectations.
The residues project aims to contribute towards further minimizing pesticide residues in food and it is hoped that this will ultimately foster consumer trust in food safety. This residues project is being conducted together with the Experimental Station Cajamar Caja Rural “Las Palmerillas”, situated in the heart of the Spanish greenhouse production Almería. “A train-the trainer concept will be developed to understand the steps undertaken that help to improve the management of residues. This will then be shared through a cross-country collaboration with other regions to spread the acquired knowledge” - said Jan Rether, Project lead of the Residues Management Project at ECPA.
“The crop protection industry takes consumers’ concerns about residues in food very seriously” – commented Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of ECPA. “We believe that by undertaking this project we can really help improve the remaining issues regarding residue exceedances in Mediterranean fresh produce.”
The crop protection industry in Europe is committed to helping strengthen education, training and advisory programs to this end.
About the Residues Management Project:
The first intensive trainings with stakeholders will be taking place already in June 2013 at Las Palmerillas, Spain. MRL (Maximum Residue Level): MRLS are set 100 fold below residue safety levels so exceedances reported do not mean that the food is unsafe to eat, however all efforts must be undertaken to avoid exceedances.
About ECPA's Time 2 Change initiative:
In November 2011 the crop protection industry took another step toward establishing itself as a valued partner in the pursuit of a more sustainable farming system in Europe. European Crop Protection Association has unveiled the fruit of an extensive critical evaluation of the performance and contribution of the industry. It is its vision to be seen as a partner and pioneer who succeeds with self-imposed commitments, openness and transparency in closing the gap between industry and society. The initiative aims to deliver measurable results in the four thematic areas of safeguarding water, the enhancement of biodiversity, the provision of safe and affordable food and the protection of health with their 15 projects. Residues Management project is part of the food stream. For more info the initiative, please visit www.hungry4change.eu
About Experimental Station Cajamar Caja Rural 'Las Palmerillas':
The Cajamar Foundation was born on 2006, with the aim of continuing creating knowledge and disseminating it to the whole society. It has inherited the legacy of the Cajamar credit cooperative social action, which have become its two main pillars: 1. Experimental Station, 2.Institute of Studies. The Cajamar Foundation is located in Almería, a province with one of the largest greenhouse areas in the world. The Experimental Station has been doing research and experimentation on greenhouse horticulture for the past 37 years. The main research activity is focused on four fields: 1. Horticultural greenhouse production, 2. Subtropical and Mediterranean fruit trees growing, 3. Agricultural economic studies, 4.Renewable energies and waste management on agriculture. In relation with greenhouse production, the main fields of activity have been water use and irrigation scheduling, new greenhouse designs/concepts, climate control in cold and warm periods, new developments in plastic covering materials and an intense collaboration with cooperatives to perform variety and production techniques tests. In this new period, as a part of the Cajamar Foundation, the Experimental Station aim is to increase its efforts in the development of new technologies (rather than testing already existing one) and the search of alternative productions for Mediterranean greenhouses, keeping always in mind sustainability of the greenhouse system both in terms of resources (water, nutrients, energy, etc.) and waste management. In this regard, the Experimental Station has recently been and is now involved in different projects financed by both the National Government and the European Union in collaboration with some of the most prestigious horticultural research groups within the European context.