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Last update: May 2021

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Towards chemical pesticide free agriculture

INRAE becomes a driving force for a European roadmap on pesticide-free agriculture

5 october 2018 - Paris

One of INRAE’s priority goals is to spur research on pesticide-free agriculture, a major concern for French and European government authorities and citizens. INRAE is currently leading a national research programme and driving efforts to create a European roadmap.

While many scientific studies underline the negative impacts of excessive pesticide use on soil fertility, biodiversity and human health, it is difficult for farmers to forego them altogether. Research must not only help them transition to using fewer products but create alternatives as well.

INRAE was chosen to draw up and lead the national priority research programme called “Cultiver et Protéger autrement” (Growing and protecting crops differently). This programme, launched at the request of the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and the Secretariat-General for Investment, was entrusted to INRAE in July 2018.

In Europe, INRAE has promoted a unique research initiative to reduce chemical pesticides in agriculture, in collaboration with its German partners from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and the German Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (JKI). “Pesticide use is a complicated issue for Europe and we need to have an ambitious vision going forward. Action is urgently needed to make an impact while ensuring that agrifood systems remain productive and profitable. There are a variety of options based on systemic and multidisciplinary approaches,” says Christian Huyghe, INRAE's Scientific Director for Agriculture. The “Towards Chemical Pesticide-free Agriculture” framework document, drafted in preparation for Horizon Europe policy debates, offered a starting point for discussion and workshop development. The first workshop was held in Paris on 5 October 2018 to create momentum and establish a European network. No fewer than a dozen European organisations were in attendance.