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Researcher condemns European Commission for turning down boost for biopesticides

The European Commission has rejected two amendments from the European Parliament designed to help the wider use of biologically based pesticides on European crops.   ‘This is a very disappointing decision,’ said Professor Wyn Grant who headed up a Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) project on biopesticides at the University of Warwick .   ‘These natural substances could make a major contribution to sustainability.   Some of the older chemical pesticides are being withdrawn and we could soon be in a situation where we have no remedy for some crop pests.

‘Eventually one might find that it was no longer economically possible to grow key crops in Europe.   This would be a blow to attempts to promote a healthier diet.  We urgently need the substitutes for chemical pesticides that biological control can provide.’ 

Biopesticides use living organisms to deal with a pest population.  Micro-organisms are the most abundant and diverse group of living things on earth.   For example, the soil everywhere contains fungi that attack aphids and these can be released as a safe method of control.   They generally have a low impact on other organisms and leave limited toxic residues.

Biopesticides  include, for example, products based on insect pheromones that can be used to disrupt the mating of pest insects such as colding moth on apples.  They also include naturally occurring micro-organisms that cause disease in insect pests or which feed on plant diseases.  For example, a fungus that naturally kills whiteflies is being used commercially by growers to control these insects on glasshouse tomato crops.   

 One of the amendments would have allowed a specific regulation to cover these products which have very different characteristics from chemical pesticides.   Another amendment would apply different criteria to them which would be sensible. 

The proposals will have to go back to the European Parliament for further discussion and MEPs will have an opportunity to debate the matter again.   ‘We will be contacting West Midlands MEPs offering them a briefing on the environmental contribution of these products.   They are generally made by small enterprises which can be a useful addition to local rural economies.   We should be trying to boost the emerging biocontrol industry, not putting new obstacles in its way.’

For further information please contact:         


Professor Wyn Grant
Department of Politics and International Studies
University of Warwick, Tel: 024 76 523720, Mobile: 07973 680599

 Peter Dunn, Communications Office, University of Warwick, 
 024 76 523708  or 07767 655860 email: