ECPA stresses science should underpin not undermine innovation

Speaking at a major event in Brussels today on Innovative Agriculture Jean-Charles Bocquet, Director General of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), called for a stronger role for science in EU decision making. Opening the event, organised by Politico and sponsored by the ECPA, Bocquet said “We have to stop this trend [for political decisions] and a wakeup call is needed - involving farmers, agri-food chain stakeholders and policymakers- to go back to science!”

Talking about the challenges facing food production, Bocquet went on to acknowledge the often negative perception of the pesticide industry, he said that it is time to “close the gap between public perception and the reality of what we do to protect health, water, biodiversity and produce good quality, and most importantly, provide safe food. 

Speaking at the same event in a panel dedicated to public opinion and innovation, Vincent Gros, Senior Vice-President for BASF, also noted that people tend to reject risks that they feel are out of their control adding that “pesticides are actually at the heart of producing more, better, sustainably”.

In the closing session, speaking of the challenges the crop protection industry faces when bringing forward innovation, Richard Maycock of Dow AgroSciences, highlighted the fact that it takes over 10 years and €190 million to bring a much needed product to market said. This industry is constantly adapting to new challenges, enabling farmers to combat the pests and diseases that are themselves constantly adapting. It is also continually improving its products to make them safer and kinder to the environment and passing on this know-how through stewardship programs. “However the number of companies investing in research & development is decreasing, as there is too much uncertainty in regulation. We are not against strong regulation, but poor regulation.” 

Innovations in the crop protection industry play a vital role in providing a safe, sustainable and affordable food supply for Europe’s 500 million citizens. By placing science and knowledge transfer at the heart of policymaking Europe can truly realise the benefits of innovation.

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