The WG Fruit held its first workshop on the issue of Sustainable Pest Management (SPM). The event, open to all SAI members, was hosted by the WG chairman, Ernesto Brovelli at Coca-Cola Europe in Berlin.
Prof. Felix L. Wäckers, of Lancaster University, opened the workshop saying that a change of perspective is needed when we talk about pest management and biodiversity: we should look at the positive impact that environment can have on agriculture, rather than the negative impact of agriculture on environment. The ecosystem services delivered by insects and wild flowers can be greatly beneficial, if used with knoledge. Ecosystem services are not a function of biodiversity per se.
Prof. Dave Skirvin, of Warwick HRI exposed how biodiversity provides a number of key ecosystem services such as pollination and biological pest control. The presentation reviewed the current state of knowledge about the use of wildflowers, and other biodiversity enhancements, to enhance pest control in outdoor crops.
Dr. Peter Rinke, of SGF International, presented the Fruit Risk Assessment Programme for Pesticides (FRAPP), as part of a sustainable pest management effort in the fruit processing industry. This is not a farm to fork traceability tool, but a statistical one, which enables to know what pesticides are used in each country in order to allow detection of falsifications in juices.
Dr. Bernd Hommel, from the Julius Kühn-Institut - Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, gave an overview of the ambitious German National Action Plan: risk reduction by year 2020 of 25% through reduction of minimum use and substitution of PPP trhough non chemical alternatives. He also introduced the main goals of the EU Commision's strategy on pesticides.
Last but not least the floor was given to Dr. Karl Heinrich Niehoff, an experienced farmer in Africa and Germany. He gave an interesting view of the farmer's perspective with regard to SPM: for him breeding and plant selection is a good way to fight pests and reduce use of products. He showed positive towards OGM and critical about the Action Plan, saying that the farmer should be able to chose what he needs.
The presentations were followed by two interactive activities and a panel discussion. Amongt the topics discussed, the consideration that a pest becomes a pest when his natural enemy is gone and that we should always see the role of an organism before we consider it a pest. The discussion touched also compliance: some products are banned in Europe, but are still being used in other countries and could be found on imported products. Closing the day, the chairman proposed the idea of a joint pilot project, to help researchers scale up SPM techniques.