Projects should provide a comprehensive overview of the current use of and need for external inputs in various types of organic plant and animal farming systems. Activities proposed should be aimed at reducing or gradually phasing out contentious inputs without compromising the competitiveness of the organic sector. Work shall identify and develop alternatives to contentious inputs and analyse the socio-economic conditions required for their adoption. The products and management practices developed should be tested in different pedo-climatic and farming conditions in the EU, allowing for wide geographical coverage within Europe, associated countries and relevant third countries. Projects should take into account the results and conclusions of previous research projects in the area. Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]].
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Despite having stricter standards and limitations on external inputs, organic agriculture still uses a number of products that are allowed under the EU organic regulation only due to a lack of economically and technically viable alternatives. Some are the subject of concern or not fully in line with organic principles. The most controversial practice in this respect is the use of copper as a plant protection product, but there is also an urgent need for alternatives to the use of mineral oils (for plant protection), manure from non-organic farms, synthetic vitamins and provitamins used in animal production, etc. Work needs to be done to develop alternatives to such contentious inputs, including preventive farm-management methods.
- widely accessible and cost-efficient alternatives to contentious inputs in organic farming. Better knowledge of alternatives will also allow for reduced inputs in conventional agriculture;
- enhanced organic production, quality and stability;
- reduced environmental impact of organic and low-input farming systems;
- fair, reliable and implementable rules on the use of inputs in organic production; and
- provision of scientific support for relevant EU policies.