A new paper
now available online reveals the extraordinary policy efforts made in France in order to reduce the use of chemical plant protection products and transform the country’s agriculture. Written by ENDURE communications team member Jay-Ram Lamichhane and ENDURE’s current and past coordinators, Antoine Messéan and Pierre Ricci respectively, the paper is published in Advances in Agronomy.
The authors report on the introduction of France’s National Action Plan, called Ecophyto, drawn up in reponse to the European Union’s Framework Directive on the sustainable use of plant protection products (PPPs). The change in crop protection required to meet Ecophyto’s ambitious goal of substantially reducing pesticide use has generated three major research needs, they report.
These are the exploration of new fields of knowledge (for example, links between cropping systems, biodiversity and pest regulation), support for the new features introduced to accompany the transition phase (such as the pest monitoring system and farm network) and a reconsideration of issues relating to pest management methods given the changes in farming practices promoted by Ecophyto.
In the paper, the authors explore the specific research and innovation programme under Ecophyto, which has prioritised research questions covering eight thematic areas:
• Pest monitoring and decision-making
• Design of IPM solutions
• Diversification of pest control methods
• Durability and sustainability of these methods
• Socio-economic aspects of the transition toward a low-input crop protection system
• Contribution of public policy for such a transition
• Development of indicators to assess the use and impacts of chemical PPPs
• Effects on human health due to exposure to chemical PPPs
They report: “The resulting scientific program was disseminated through a diversity of calls for proposals which vastly mobilized public research, in partnership with agricultural experimentation networks and private research. This initiative has translated into dynamic and significant advances made by research which, in part, are already discernible.
“It will eventually produce a corpus of scientific knowledge and technical innovations which can contribute to the expected transition toward a low-input crop protection system, as long as farmers are associated in the design of sustainable IPM solutions and other concerned stakeholders of the sociotechnical system are mobilized.”
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