The Business Association for the Protection of Plants (Aepla), which brings phytosanitary product manufacturers in Spain together, has asked for more time to develop organic phytosanitary products suitable for organic agriculture. It has also requested a regulation favoring access to innovation, in view of the growing demand for organic products and the pressure that the agricultural sector receives from some supermarkets to increase their production.
General director Carlos Palomar said that "as a sector, we are asking that these demands be met in good time, because developing a new product or active ingredient, whether of natural, biological or chemical origin, requires up to 12 years of study, and you must demonstrate its safety for those who apply it, the consumer and the environment." This requires numerous studies which can cost up to 250 million Euro for each new molecule, according to Aepla.
Worldwide, the inappropriate use of pesticides and other chemicals in the primary sector threatens to pollute water and soil, as well as harm human health and biodiversity. In Spain, Palomar says that the plant protection sector has followed a process of "professionalization" over the past decade, specifically after a European directive was approved in 2009 to ensure the sustainable use of pesticides.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), the marketing of active substances of plant protection products amounted to 73,286 tons in 2018; 1.6% more than the previous year.
Fungicides and bactericides were the best-selling products, followed by herbicides.
In 2020, which was declared the International Year of Plant Health, Palomar is calling for "a regulatory system that favors a speedy access to innovations" to deal with pests that were previously secondary, but whose tackling has now become a priority.
According to Palomar, digitalization, precision agriculture and warning systems can also contribute to controlling plant diseases, which are booming due to globalization and climate change.