Pan European Networks - Government - page 201

Pan European Networks: Government
Dr Franz Bigler
Senior Scientist
Biodiversity and Environmental Management
President of IOBC-WPRS
Agroscope ART
on the market takes at least 10-15 years. Thus, a project begun in
Horizon 2020 (so in two or three years’ time) the innovation created
therein would not be ready for implementation before 2025.
Despite this quite extended horizon, and even with the existing knowledge
base that we have in Europe today, if funds are redirected properly
and if policy really comes to frame the context successfully, then I am
quite convinced that we can easily reduce the number and amount of
pesticides being used in the EU by 50% by 2025. After that, new
innovation will be required, and this is where the work that is begun in
Horizon 2020 will come to fruition.
Do you feel that EC Regulation 1107/2009 and the EC
Directive 2009/128 require revision or development?
A re-assessment of the criteria to qualify low risk products is currently
underway in Europe and, while it is difficult to predict the outcome, from
our perspective as the International Organisation for Biological and
Integrated Control, we are trying to provide the European Commission
with the relevant technical knowledge and information, through DG
Sanco, in the hope that it will help to improve the situation.
In light of this, I am happy that this re-assessment is taking place, as
low-risk product regulatory process is an area in which Europe needs to
improve, as there are very few signs that any form of progress has been
made in this area in the last 20 years.
emotional opposition in Europe at the moment,
there will come a day when attitudes change
and they are accepted.
What makes this argument even more likely is
the fact that many European cattle are fed with
feed (such as soya) which is imported from
the Americas, and which are GMOs, and yet,
despite fears, these animals are fit and well,
thereby demonstrating that GMOs pose no
more of a risk than other conventionally-bred
plants. Thus, while it is good that Europe has a
stringent system to look at risks, it must also
be realised that it is just as important to
investigate the benefits.
This is the approach taken by the Americans,
who are aware that while all technology has
risks, the important thing to ask is whether the
benefits outweigh those risks and, currently,
this is not being done in Europe.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that I
am not promoting GMOs from any kind of
commercial standpoint but, as a scientist, I have
a duty to argue that a technology that is so
powerful and has so much potential should not
be discarded.
What impact do you think H2020
could have in encouraging
innovation in IPM and pesticides?
The extent to which Horizon 2020 will be
co-ordinated with the European Innovation
Partnership is a question of fundamental
importance to this, and I hope that within the
EIP there will be room for funding the entire IPM
field, from the researcher to the farmer.
This is, indeed, something which can be
implemented quite quickly, in that things like
crop rotation could be implemented almost
immediately, requiring only that the farmer
receive adequate instructions on how to do it
and how he can find an association to facilitate
this work.
Other areas, where the real innovation will be,
may need more research, and if research
packages are put together in Horizon 2020,
then this could be the first step along the
innovation pathway for results that will begin to
emerge between 2025 and 2035.
Indeed, judging from my experience, from the
process of going from the beginning of a project
to the production of a product that could be put
Things like crop rotation
could be implemented
almost immediately,
requiring only that the
farmer receive adequate
instructions on how to
do it and how he can
find an association to
facilitate this work
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