Plant protection products — and what should be considered

Use of plant protection products for tomatoes

Without the use of plant protection products, experts say agricultural yields would be about one-third lower because harmful organisms such as insects, infectious fungi, and snails would otherwise damage the plants. Or uncontrolled weeds would hinder the growth of crops.

Early plant protection products without knowledge of the side effects

Plant protection products have been used for several centuries. Researchers first came across plant-based active ingredients that could be used against pests, such as nicotine from tobacco leaves or pyrethrum from chrysanthemum blossoms. Later, inorganic salts and organic chemicals such as lead arsenate and dinitro-ortho-cresol were offered. However, they were unaware at first that these substances had significant disadvantages.

Plant protection products: effective and without adverse side effects

Plant protection products are used to destroy or reduce organisms that harm crops, but they can sometimes also damage the crops themselves or be toxic to those who apply them. In addition, undesirable residues can remain on and in the foodstuffs which reach consumers.

With today’s plant protection products, the goal is to find the right balance between the desired effectiveness against harmful organisms and a minimisation of the harmful effects on nature, users, and the population as a whole.

Authorisation first, then marketing

In order for this task to be adequately met, lawmakers have drawn up rules which require official authorisation before placing such products onto the market. In Europe, plant protection products are mainly regulated by Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009. Maximum residue levels in food for consumption and in animal fee must meet the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. In addition, national laws apply, for example in Germany the Plant Protection Act (Pflanzenschutzgesetz – PflSchG), which is supplemented by other laws and regulations.

Before marketing an existing or new plant protection product, compliance with many regulations must first be ensured. Finally, the plant protection product must be authorised by national authorities. The underlying active substance first needs to be approved by the European Commission after scientific evaluation of the dossier by the Member States and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Therefore, many studies on the product’s efficacy and safety for human health and the environment are needed. Only then can the plant protection product be used.

Expertise and sufficient resources

The cost of getting an active substance approved and authorisation for the production of a plant protection product is therefore substantial, not only financially, but also in terms of the time required. Experts are needed who can identify which tests are required, how they are to be carried out, can collate the results, and compile them into a comprehensive dossier. In addition, contacts with the various competent authorities are necessary to discuss proper procedures and to avoid any unnecessary investigations. Once all this has been successfully completed, the plant protection product may be authorised and (continue to be) sold.

If you are already have enough in-house expertise to handle all of this work yourself, you’re probably not reading this page. But, if you do require any assistance, please feel free to contact us. ⇒ Contact