In a high level meeting with the Estonian Presidency today, Copa Vice President Henri Brichart said “The vast majority of pests and diseases are controlled with agricultural practices such as crop rotation, seed and variety selection, cultivation practices, sowing dates and densities, irrigation, and so on. But some of these technologies - New Breeding Techniques and Plant Protection Products - are under pressure due to a lack of confidence in the EU Institutions and with non-science-based decisions taking centre stage”.
“Although farmers are well trained and their spraying equipment is checked, EU Institutions do not promote enough our high safety standards to the public or build trust in our system. This results in citizens questioning our farming practices and the loss of safe and efficient tools”, he warned.
Glyphosate – which has been given a positive assessment by both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – is a prime example of this. There should be no question but to re-authorise its use for the full 15 years. “Our plant protection products (PPPs) are applied in the safest way worldwide, yet the EU is failing to safeguard the competitiveness of our agriculture. This results in a loss of competitiveness at global level. European farmers and their cooperatives need access to these technological advancements in order to meet the upcoming challenges and to remain competitive on the market”, he insisted. He also highlighted the need for fair trade and for extreme caution to be exercised in the upcoming trade talks with the Latin American Trade bloc Mercosur, doubting that these countries showed a genuine willingness to guarantee a level playing field. The Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, for example, has just announced implementation of export refunds for Argentinian pigmeat, he explained.
Mr Brichart went on to underline the important role of farmers in ensuring that soils are healthy and productive, providing win-win solutions for the climate and the economy. The last experience that we had with the soil framework directive made everybody understand that an alternative way to bring things forward should be followed, he stressed.
Wrapping up, he welcomed the declaration made by many Ministers on the importance of the bioeconomy, saying that it will be play an important role in the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and in EU research policy.