A majority of the European Parliament rejected the Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR) on November 22, 2023. The International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA) regrets the loss of an opportunity that had the potential to accelerate access to innovative nature-based solutions.
Until now, the SUR was the only piece of EU legislation on the table that would have ensured biocontrol solutions made it to the market faster. They equipped farmers with the tools they needed to grow sufficient food for all via sustainable and resilient agriculture. This setback endangers the livelihoods of EU farmers, the competitiveness of the European biocontrol sector, food security, and the health of people and the planet.
Rapporteur MEP Sarah Wiener saw this as “a very dark day for the environment and farmers” after a majority of MEPS voted against promising aspects during the plenary vote.
Although overall a setback, it is worth noting that biocontrol received substantial support and will clearly play a major role in the future of environmentally friendly food production.
Jennifer Lewis, IBMA Executive Director, says, “This was a disappointing day for biocontrol. The SUR contained an EU-wide definition of biological control and provided options for the faster authorization of alternatives essential for Integrated Pest Management and resilient farming. We believe that in the context of discussions on the SUR, a broad political consensus developed that this should happen urgently. We are now looking at other ways to ensure biocontrol can still be put quickly into farmers’ toolboxes. We take this opportunity to thank the EU Commission and the many politicians who acknowledged the crucial role biocontrol plays in resilient agriculture. IBMA will continue working with all parties to ensure the gains for biocontrol envisaged in the context of the SUR are not lost.”
The world is facing increasing biodiversity loss, EU farmers are already confronted with the effects of the climate crisis, and citizens are asking for more environmental protection. Biocontrol offers alternatives to safeguard nature, decarbonize farming and secure sustainable food production for future generations.
In closing, Herman Van Mellaert, IBMA President, comments, “I refuse to accept and believe that Europe will continue much longer to discourage environmentally friendly agriculture and therefore biocontrol solutions for growing healthy crops in a sustainable way by multiplying unnecessary obstacles and endless delays on the path to market. This puts EU farmers, consumers and biocontrol companies at a major disadvantage compared to those countries that apply an effective and proportionate regulatory review process.”