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Study: Fewer pesticides lead to crop losses of up to 30 percent

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) of the Netherlands presented its full study on the impacts of the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy, announced last fall, in Brussels in mid-January. Entitled "Impact Assessment of EC 2030 Green Deal Targets for Sustainable Crop Production," the study presents specific data for the EU's major agricultural producing countries. CropLife Europe and CropLife International commissioned the study, which was prepared with the involvement of other stakeholders in the food supply chain.

The European Commission wants to halve the use of pesticides in agriculture by 2030. The use of fertilizers is also to be reduced according to the EU's plans. The measures are intended to counteract climate change and the loss of biodiversity. However, one likely consequence is that yields of agricultural crops will fall. Lower production will lead to price increases, fewer European exports and more imports of agricultural products from outside Europe.

According to Johan Bremmer, a researcher at Wageningen University & Research, the study shows that implementing the F2F and Green Deal strategies will have a negative impact on crop yields and agricultural production. "Scenario 4 analyzes the cumulative effects of several farm-to-fork targets," according to the announcement on the WUR website. "Consider pesticide use reduction and nutrient loss prevention. This scenario shows an average production decline of 10 to 20 percent. Some crops are affected more than others. Production volume can decrease by up to 30 percent, but there are also crops that hardly suffer from the impact of the F2F strategy."

For Germany, despite expected adjustments to cropping systems, production declines of 15 percent are estimated for wheat, canola and sugar beet, and 26 percent for hops.

These would be offset by higher net import volumes. "This shift in production equates to a shift in environmental effects such as biodiversity losses or greenhouse gas emissions, but not to their reduction," comments Frank Gemmer, chief executive of Industrieverband Agrar e. V. (IVA), the results in Top Agrar "A real improvement can only be achieved through smart and adapted saving strategies as well as through innovations and the use of new technologies. For this, clear political and regulatory frameworks are needed so that sustainable innovative solutions can quickly reach and be used in practice."

Sarah Wiener, MEP for the Greens, rejects this. She sees in the study "attempts by the agricultural industry and the United States to systematically defame the Green Deal," Top Agrar says.

Click here for the study.