New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) won't reduce pesticide use in the EU
foodwatch challenges the idea that NGTs will reduce pesticide use in the EU, as there are no viable traits for this purpose. The first and most important step towards a pesticide-free EU agriculture by 2035 would be the introduction of an EU-wide pesticide tax.
Commission officials have recently stated that the New Genomic Techniques (NGT) are having the potential to reduce pesticide use. A new report by foodwatch shows evidence to the contrary: foodwatch has analysed existing scientific literature on disease-resistant NGT crops and found that not a single trait near commercialization has the potential to reduce pesticide use.
Genetically Engineered Crops increase pesticide usage
Contrary to what the industry has been promising for decades, genetically engineered crops have never led to a reduction of pesticide use on national scale. According to foodwatch analysis, in the USA, Brazil and Argentina – where genetic engineered crops are liberally grown – pesticide use is higher than ever.
Pesticide reduction is only possible if agricultural producers are motivated to do so. This is a political task and not one that should be delegated to the private sector.Strategy Director of foodwatch International
The risk of increasing vulnerability through the cultivation of genetically engineered crops is high for several reasons. Seed breeding companies will use patents to increase their market share and profits and to drive competitors out of the market. Crops created via NGTs will more likely lead to a further intensification of agriculture and to an amplified loss of genetic diversity. These are drivers of pesticide use.
EU-wide pesticide tax now!
In June 2022, foodwatch presented a concrete crop-by-crop strategy for a pesticide-free EU agriculture by 2035. The first and most important step towards this would be the introduction of an EU-wide pesticide tax.
Biodiversity is the existential prerequisite for future viability, especially in EU agriculture. NGTs will lead to the opposite. It’s overdue to address path-dependencies and lock-ins to solve the pesticide problem of the EU.International Strategy Director
The use of pesticides and herbicides has increased in recent years, with dire consequences for biodiversity, climate protection, and soil quality. foodwatch has warned that it is time to address path-dependencies and lock-ins to solve the pesticide problem of the EU.
Sources and additional information
- foodwatch report: “Locked-in pesticides” (June 2022)
- abstract of the report (June 2022)
- foodwatch report New Genome Techniques (NGT) – A Risky Corporate Distraction From Real Sustainable Solutions
- ECI Hearing: Save Bees and Farmers. Deputy Director DG SANTE: „Commission does think there is potential in NGTs” (at 16:09:22)