EU Parliament votes against Sustainable Use Regulation

November 24, 2023

A majority of the European Parliament rejected the Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR) on November 22, 2023. Reaction from IBMA and COPA-COGECA.

The Parliament of the European Union rejected the Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR) on November 22, 2023. The International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA) stated it regrets the loss of an opportunity they say had the potential to accelerate access to innovative nature-based solutions.

According to the European Parliament, 299 MEPs voted to reject the Commission’s proposal as amended by MEPs in plenary, with 207 supporting the proposal and 121 abstaining.

Reacting to news of the vote, IBMA stated that until now, the SUR was the only piece of EU legislation on the table that would have ensured biocontrol solutions make it to the market faster. “This endangers the livelihoods of EU farmers, the competitiveness of the European biocontrol sector as well as food security and the health of people and the planet,” added the IBMA.

Although overall a setback, it is worth noting said IBMA that biocontrol received substantial support and will clearly play a major role in the future of environmentally friendly food production.

“This was a disappointing day for biocontrol. The SUR contained an EU wide definition of biological control and provided options for the faster authorization of alternatives essential for integrated pest management and resilient farming,” said Jennifer Lewis, IBMA executive director. “We believe that in the context of discussions on the SUR broad political consensus developed that this should happen urgently. We are now looking at other ways to ensure biocontrol can still be put quickly into farmers’ toolboxes. We take this opportunity to thank the EU Commission and the many politicians who acknowledged the crucial role biocontrol plays in resilient agriculture. IBMA will continue working with all parties to ensure the gains for biocontrol envisaged in the context of the SUR are not lost.”

Herman Van Mellaert, IBMA president, responded: “I refuse to accept and believe that Europe will continue much longer to discourage environmental friendly agriculture and therefore biocontrol solutions for growing healthy crops in a sustainable way by multiplying unnecessary obstacles and endless delays on the path to market.”

Van Mellaert added: “This puts EU farmers, consumers and biocontrol companies at a major disadvantage compared to those countries that apply an effective and proportionate regulatory review process.”

COPA-COGECA, the combined organisation of COPA and COGECA representing European farming cooperatives, said in a statement on 22 November: “With the rejection of the European Commission’s proposal on the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products (SUR) in plenary, MEPs sent a decisive message: the lack of dialogue, the imposition of objectives from above, the refusal to assess the impact and the lack of funding for agricultural proposals must end now.”

The statement continued: “EU farmers and agri-cooperatives will continue to improve their environmental sustainability, but they need realistic objectives and the necessary support, two elements that are completely missing from the Commission’s text. Copa and Cogeca have consistently denounced the gap between political rhetoric and the lack of concrete solutions of this proposal.”

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