Facts & Blindspot
The media is full of stories about Swiss producers of plant protection products exporting pesticides that are banned in Switzerland. Weak regulations in importing countries would be deliberately exploited. However, this does not correspond to the facts. When exporting plant protection products, Swiss manufacturers adhere to strict international standards. In addition, there are certain products for which an approval in Switzerland does not make sense.
The European Patent Office (EPO) has dismissed an appeal by various NGOs against a patent on a bell pepper held by Syngenta. This has been reported in various media. However, the furor whipped up by the media in connection with these plant-related patents is unwarranted. There is no need for plant breeders to fear a ‘patent trap.’ On the contrary, patents promote transparency and help to drive progress.
There are now more skeptics than ever before when it comes to biotechnological plant breeding methods, despite 30 years of research having produced a clear data basis. Conventional genetic engineering or the more modern CRISPR/Cas method present no increased risks compared to traditional breeding methods, such as cross-breeding.
As Sri Lanka experiences its worst economic crisis in 70 years, the population is protesting against the country’s political leaders and the disastrous situation surrounding the supply of basic necessities. One significant contributing factor to this predicament is last year’s decision by the government to ban pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, which resulted in poor harvests and soaring food prices.
Swiss farmers are less and less able to protect their crops against pests and fungal diseases. This is reported by the "Nebelspalter". The number of approved crop protection active ingredients has decreased drastically since 2005.
The wet summer of 2021 caused extensive damage to Switzerland’s vineyards. Fungal diseases such as downy mildew, in particular, took their toll on the grapevines. A survey conducted by the cantonal offices for viticulture in German-speaking Switzerland shows that FRG varieties are also affected by downy mildew and require plant protection products to protect the crop.
Swiss agriculture is under pressure. Due to the changing climatic conditions and increasing weather extremes, the cultivation of many crops has become more demanding. Nevertheless, consumers, processors and trade expect regional and high-quality products at affordable prices.
No European country applies for more patents per capita than Switzerland. Patent protection is a mandatory prerequisite for research and development, a foundation of Swiss welfare.
The war between Ukraine and Russia threatens the food supply of many countries and is expected to have a strong impact on food prices. Markus Ritter, president of the Swiss farmers' Association, therefore calls for more domestic production – not least out of solidarity with poorer countries.
Patents play a crucial role in science and research. Also in the field of new breeding methods, applying for patents is an important factor for innovation. In the following article you will find answers to many questions regarding patents in plant breeding.
Beekeeping is booming in Swiss cities. Urban residents want to make a contribution to the conservation of the honeybee. However, a study by the WSL research institute shows that the amateur beekeeping is not sustainable. It endangers biodiversity in cities, as honey bees increasingly displace wild insects.
Having the “right” diet is playing an increasingly more important role in the lives of a great many people. A healthy lifestyle has become a status symbol. Healthy foods and sustainable production methods have been the subject of many extremely emotional debates. A wide range of outdated ideas and myths have taken root in the minds of a large number of consumers.
Agriculture is one of the first victims of climate change. At the same time, it causes a significant share of global greenhouse gases. New technologies are the key to minimising the problem. But experts in particular are finding it increasingly difficult to recognise innovations as a solution to climate change.
Climate change affects the quality and quantity of harvests. According to a recently published study, there is a risk of significantly lower maize harvests as early as the mid-2030s. Africa and South America are primarily affected. However, Europe must also be careful that agricultural production is not neglected.
The summer of 2021 will probably remain in the memory of the Eastern Swiss winemakers for a long time to come. The wet cold weather with hail storms causes major crop failures.
To produce the same amount of food, organic agriculture needs around 40 percent more space than conventional agriculture. In order to be able to feed the growing world population completely organically, up to 80 percent more space would be needed in the future.
If you look closely, you can see: The number comes from a 35-year-old study. In a thought experiment at the time, suicides involving pesticides in Sri Lanka were extrapolated worldwide.
Everything that occurs in nature is healthy and synthetically produced substances, i.e. "chemical" substances, are toxic. This myth is fundamentally wrong: There are many highly toxic substances in nature, and at the same time there are many synthetic substances that are absolutely harmless.
Pesticides are repeatedly blamed for the decline in insects. That is too simplistic an assessment. The reality is much more complex. For example, overdevelopment has a much stronger influence on insect populations. This is demonstrated by a meta-study on global insect decline.
The fact that organic farmers work without pesticides is a commonly-held view, but it is clearly wrong. Around 60 percent of the Swiss top ten crop protection products are also approved for organic farming. The organic farming industry, in its current form, could not exist without modern synthetic plant protection products.