Decline in crop protection R&D shows Europe failing on sustainable intensification
The share of global R&D investment spent on developing new crop protection products for the European market has fallen sharply from 33% in the 1980s to just 16% today, according to a new study by agribusiness consultants Phillips McDougall.

As a result, the number of new active ingredients being developed and introduced in the EU is decreasing despite an increase in global expenditure on agricultural R&D. The decline in Europe's share of global R&D investment across the agricultural life sciences sector (ie including GM-related research) is even more marked, down from 33% in the 1980s to 7.7% today.  

According to CPA chief executive Nick von Westenholz, the withdrawal of research investment from Europe is a straightforward commercial response to Europe's challenging regulatory environment, and one that deprives Europe's farmers of new crop protection solutions that would help them meet the growing demand for healthy and affordable food. 

"Crop protection and life sciences are global, research-based industries. The EU has the most hostile and unpredictable regulatory environment for pesticides and
GMOs, and it is hardly surprising that when companies assess the risk involved
in committing resources to R&D for new products, they are increasingly
likely to overlook the EU," he said.  

"This study shows that the rate of new product introductions in the EU crop protection sector has fallen by 70% since the 1990s. Coupled with the impact of new hazard-based cut-off criteria in removing current crop protection tools,
European agriculture is facing a crop protection crunch as more products are
lost than can be replaced." "As climate change makes agricultural production more challenging across most parts of the globe, Europe will become increasingly important in terms of global food production. This research shows worrying indications that, rather than rising to the challenge, we intend to rely on the rest of the world to supply our food instead - an utterly unsustainable scenario." 

"The EU must promote a more progressive and science-based regulatory environment. The crop protection industry is ready to work with all relevant stakeholders and regulators to reverse the decline in EU R&D, so that Europe's farmers can benefit from the same new products and innovative technologies to help meet growing global demand for sustainable, affordable and healthy food
supplies," concluded Mr von Westenholz.

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