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Integrated health approaches and alternatives to pesticide use


A. [2019]: Integration of plant protection in a global health approach (RIA)

Activities will test and deliver integrated approaches to advance in the assessment of the impacts of plant protection products and their metabolites (PPPs) on plant, human, animal and ecosystem health. Activities will build on existing data, validated models of PPPs fluxes/concentrations, models for economic analysis, integrated risk assessment tools, running projects and the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) activities. Activities will support new measurements and observations and further develop more comprehensive and reliable models. A synthesis of risks, cost and benefit analysis of PPPs' use at different spatial and temporal scales and their distribution between different stakeholders should be performed (including damages caused by pests, product quality and regulatory costs). Activities will build on representative case studies covering different agricultural products.

In terms of human health, both direct and indirect exposures to PPPs will be taken into account with a particular focus on direct exposure of farmers and the rural population and the exposure of consumers to PPP residues in food. Animal health risk assessment should take into account the exposure to residues of PPPs in feed (aggregating EU uses and residues in imported feed). Work on environmental risks and impacts should consider the diversity of European agricultural landscapes, as well as ecological and environmental variability. It should make it possible to gauge the spatial dimension of impacts and map risks at regional, national, European and global levels while considering other regulatory initiatives, in particular the Common Agricultural Policy, the protection of European biodiversity and the Water Framework Directive.

Proposals will identify lock-ins, develop transition paths towards a sustainable use of PPPs, taking a transdisciplinary approach, and should consider the needs of risk managers for the authorisation/restriction of PPPs as well as of farmers for selecting more appropriate and sustainable products and their optimal use avoiding side effects. Activities will include the development of a research agenda on plant protection in the context of a global health approach.

B. [2020] Alternative to contentious pesticides (IA)

Activities will foster the development and testing of tools, approaches, strategies and/or products to reduce the risks associated with the use of contentious plant protection products and/or biocidal products in conventional and/or organic farming systems and/or the agri-food chain. They will seek for more sustainable alternatives to contentious (or, as appropriate, active substances used in) plant protection product(s) for integrated pest, disease and/or weed management in agriculture and/or biocidal product(s) for preventing and controlling harmful organisms occurring in facilities related to agricultural production and the agri-food chain. Activities should address the development, testing and demonstration of novel, more durable and sustainable approaches, products, strategies and/or tools for their application within a systems approach and cultural practices.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 15 million for scope A and EUR 5 million for scope B would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

All sub-topics (A), (B): Projects should fall under the concept of the ‘multi-actor approach’[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction of this Work Programme part]] including a range of actors to ensure that knowledge and needs from various sectors such as research, farming, advisory services and industry including SMEs are brought together. They should also seek contributions from social and economic sciences to cover the broader economic, social, behavioural and environmental issues associated with the adoption of novel management strategies, including the impact on labour, safety culture and risk management on farms and economic impact for farmers. This will include looking at gender aspects, as appropriate.

Plant protection and biocidal products (both covered under the term ""pesticides"") are used in agriculture to secure yield and ensure food and feed safety across agricultural production and the agri-food chain. At the same time, pesticides may have effects on the environment, non-target organisms, animal and human health. In the EU they are regulated[[Regulations (EC) No 1107/2009 and (EU) No 528/2012]] and assessed for pre-market approval but tools and methods need to be further developed to better understand the overall risks and impacts associated with their individual and combined use and possible side effects. Member States and EU policies seek to reduce reliance on pesticides by designing and implementing more integrated approaches to the use of pesticides while at the same time safeguarding competitiveness.

Activities will contribute to a better understanding of complex, interlinked issues and reduce the reliance on the use of pesticides by helping to:

  • establish the impacts of the use or non-use of pesticides on the environment and human health (consumers, operators, farm workers and residents in agricultural areas);
  • improve farmer, consumer and citizen awareness of and trust in global health approaches through clear and transparent and integrated assessments, pest / disease / weed prevention and control strategies for EU agricultural production and / or the agri-food chain and related communication;
  • contribute to the ongoing collection of harmonised EU-wide datasets in open source collaboration and of indicators to assess and monitor trends over time and support risk management measures (scope A);
  • improve monitoring of pesticide uses and pressures on human and animal health and the environment, by developing appropriate tools and integrated approaches considering various pathways (scope A);
  • foster lasting transdisciplinary cooperation in the fields of life sciences, human, plant and animal health and environmental sciences and strengthen the European scientific community on global health approaches (scope A);
  • introduce alternative approaches, tools, strategies and/or products for prevention and control of pests/diseases/weeds with improved environmental performance (e.g. reduced effects on non-target organisms, natural resources and the environment) in the field of plant protection and/or use of biocides related to agricultural production and activities across the agri-food chain (scope B);
  • assess the potential risks and benefits of the chosen alternatives in a coherent and consistent way in view of safety and sustainability (scope B);
  • improve current agronomic, ecological and cultural practices to increase the resilience of agricultural production and/or the agri-food chain against biotic stresses (scope B);
  • assess the economic, social and environmental impact of the alternative proposals for the farmers and/or consumers (scope B);
  • support relevant EU plant health policies and/or European risk assessments in relation to EFSA and / or ECHA activities (scope B).

In the longer-term results will strengthen an integrated health approach and foster the sustainable use of pesticides thereby reducing the exposure of human and animals, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, drinking water and the food chain to pesticides.