Is the industry exporting banned pesticides?
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.
From Data to Harvests - How Digitization is Improving Agriculture
Digitalization is making its way into agriculture. At the Swiss-Food Talk on April 25, 2023, three experts from the agricultural machinery industry, vegetable production, and agricultural media discussed how digitization is changing food production. The consensus is that we are in the transition from industrial to smart agriculture, where data and algorithms as support allow precise interventions and serve sustainability.
«How can our agriculture and food system become fit for the new normal?»
It is time to say goodbye to millimeter agricultural policy, says Liebegg director Hansruedi Häfliger in view of the global multi-crisis. Farming families should be given back the necessary room for maneuver so that the agriculture and food economy becomes more resilient.
The search for the egg of the future
Boiled, stirred, fried: Eggs are not only popular at Easter. At the same time, there is increasing interest in alternatives to the animal protein products that are common in our country. The search for new protein sources therefore does not stop at chicken eggs. The "egg substitute" can come from exotic jellyfish, as well as from a wide variety of plant sources. The result: The demand for protein-rich crops is growing.
“Future Food”: From development to shopping basket
Protein is a key component in a healthy, balanced diet. However, the majority of protein consumed by humans derives from animals and is extremely resource-intensive to produce. What might alternatives look like? And what needs to happen to enable alternative protein products to end up in consumers’ baskets? At the Swiss-Food Talk, three experts considered the issues.
«Biologicals» – biologically active substances from research
Modern crop protection products must be safe, targeted and short-lived – i.e. degraded shortly after reaching their target – without leaving behind biologically active degradation products.
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The great benefits of biotechnology in agriculture
Bioengineered crops have been cultivated in many parts of the world for around 25 years. Several publications bear witness to the great benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The cultivation of the plants has a positive effect on the environment, the climate and yields for farmers.
“Natural does not always mean sustainable”
We are reliant on optimized foodstuffs in order to supply the planet’s growing population with healthy, sustainably produced food. However, consumers often view these as “artificial”, and thus “unnatural” – and “natural” is the preferred choice. Of our everyday foods, however, very few are of “natural origin”. They have been optimized by humans over the course of time. But are supposedly “natural” products also healthier and more sustainable? Three presenters took an in-depth look at food optimization in this Swiss-Food Talk.
How a Swiss start-up protects its inventions
The topic of meat substitutes is on everyone's lips here in Switzerland, as in many countries. At the forefront of Swiss manufacturers in this field is the start-up Planted, whose success is partly due to its systematic protection of intellectual property.
Drought-tolerant wheat from Argentina
Heat waves are posing a major challenge to cultivation around the world. Water shortages and droughts are resulting in heavy crop losses for the agricultural industry. Because droughts will be more frequent in the future, the search for plant varieties that consume less water is a top priority. One drought-tolerant wheat variety from Argentina is showing great potential.
How plant breeding innovations are helping to feed a hungry world
As of 2019, nearly 26% of the globe’s population experienced hunger or did not have regular access to safe and nutritious food. With increasing global populations and a changing climate, this number is estimated to surpass 840 million by 2030.
Scared to death: These ‘Toxic Ten’ chemicals have been widely detected in many commonly-consumed fruits and vegetables
The Toxic Ten are chemicals in your family’s refrigerator and the government does nothing to stop it; it even takes steps to increase their level in food. They are prevalent in the American diet. Studies in animals have shown that they can pose a significant risk to health. By Kevin Folta in The Genetic Literacy Project.
Circular economy in food production
Reuse instead of throwing away: The circular economy is gaining in importance in many sectors of the economy. In the future, agricultural production will also increasingly have to take place in cycles. This applies in particular to land use, fertilizer production and animal feed production.
What we can do to reclaim farmland
Agriculture is responsible for ensuring that future generations have enough to eat. Farmers must make the most of every option for food production.
Revolution on the farm
The CRISPR/Cas method will revolutionise parts of plant breeding. The technology is urgently needed to address the challenges facing agriculture in this century and threatening our security of supply.
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Patents: Switzerland leads the way
The number of patent applications is an important indicator of a country’s innovative capacity. No other country applies for as many patents per capita as Switzerland. The country should therefore continue to safeguard its ability to provide a research-friendly environment.
Wars and political calculations fuel famine
In the 20th century, an estimated 70 million people died as a result of famine. A look into the history shows: Almost always wars or authoritarian rulers were the cause of hunger.
Sustainable food from the bioreactor
Feed more people and waste less raw materials – we are achieving this goal thanks to "sustainability from the laboratory," Tilo Hühn is convinced. Together with a team of 80 at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the food architect is researching sustainable nutrition solutions.
Using DNA in the air to measure biodiversity
Biodiversity is at risk worldwide. This is particularly evident in the decline in land insects. Researchers are now using DNA traces in the air to detect species. This makes it possible to better measure biological diversity on Earth.
New breeding methods – here to stay
The Swiss Parliament has decided to update the genetic engineering moratorium that has been in place since 2005. The step was overdue. On the occasion of a webinar organized by swiss-food.ch, experts from science and agriculture spoke about the benefits of new biotechnological breeding methods. It became clear: the risks are low, the opportunities are great.
Organic: Luxury at the expense of developing countries
ZDF takes a look at the organic farming industry in a documentary program. Are organic products actually more sustainable and better for the climate than comparable products from conventional agriculture? From the perspective of resource efficiency, the question must be answered in the negative.
Global facts on world food and agriculture
Only thanks to technological progress and modern crop protection will we be able to conserve our resources in the future and at the same time feed more and more people in a healthy way.
Ten applications of new breeding technologies for Switzerland
The summer of 2021 has shown how damaging prolonged rain can be for crops. With climate change, the likelihood of extreme weather events will increase. Farmers therefore need improved plant varieties that can withstand heat but also a lot of moisture.
The Future of Agriculture and Climate Change
All around the world, we see and feel the effects of climate change on our lives. While it impacts everyone, agriculture is one of the sectors that is at the forefront of climate change – contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time coping with growing our food under increasingly challenging conditions. So, how can we address climate change and take action that makes an impact?
Everything that claims to be “free from pesticides” is not always the best solution
In the Indian state of Sikkim, it has been forbidden to use synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers since 2016. Western media outlets have been happy to quote this example as proof that switching to completely organic farming works. This does not, however, tell the whole story.
First plant-based corona vaccine
After just one year of research and development, the first vaccines against Sars-Cov-2 have received approval. The mRNA vaccines are the most effective. However, their production is relatively expensive, and they must be stored constantly at temperatures as low as -70 degrees Celsius. A Canadian company is successfully pursuing an alternative approach: it is using tobacco plants to produce the vaccine.
Can nutrition be healthy and sustainable at the same time?
Is there a menu plan that is good for our bodies and sustainable at the same time? The answer is yes, but it is also complex. This is the result of research on the online portal “Heidi.news” and the “Sonntagszeitung”.
A new lease on life for unusable farmland
Fertile farmland is one of the most valuable resources in the world. It is vital that degraded agricultural land is restored and made fertile once more. The technology already exists, but financial stimuli are needed to make it happen.
Insects: The protein source of tomorrow?
Insects have long been considered the superfood of the future. They are rich in protein, require less land and water, and have a better carbon footprint than conventional meat.
Vegetables protect fruits - and vice versa
Plastic packaging in the grocery trade protects fruit and vegetables from spoilage, but also creates considerable amounts of waste. Together with the Empa, Lidl Switzerland has now developed a protective wrap for fruit and vegetables that is based on renewable raw materials.
A Holistic Approach to Sustainability
Anything can be sold as “sustainable”. That’s why it’s important to take a closer look at what the term means. On one hand, sustainability includes a time component. On the other hand, it has an ecological, economic, and social dimension.
European agriculture: "Keeping an eye on the global framework"
Food security in Europe and sustainability in agriculture were topics of discussion at Bayer's agricultural talks in cooperation with the "agrarzeitung". The following issues became clear: Europe cannot be viewed in isolation. Every change in European production has an impact on other regions of the world.
Less crop protection in 2020, probably more in 2021
The federal figures for the volume of plant protection products sold in 2020 offer a contradictory picture: total sales figures for plant protection products have continued to decline. In 2020, 1930 tonnes of plant protection products were sold in Switzerland in total. There was an increase in the sale of plant protection products permitted for use in organic farming. This also includes substances that pose a considerable risk.
Production: More food with fewer resources
One of the greatest challenges of this century will be to feed an estimated ten billion people in a safe and sustainable manner. To achieve this goal, agriculture needs to become much more productive.
Environment: Use and protect
Many innovations arise from observations of nature. Genetic resources often serve as inspiration or basis for new products, drugs and mechanisms of action. Agriculture also uses natural cycles, but at the same time influences them. It is in the farmers' own interest to produce in the most environmentally friendly way possible.
Safety and security: Productivity and Trust
In order to be able to feed ten billion people by 2050, substantial effort will be required from the agriculture and research sectors. Security and safety will play a major role in this, with both food security and food safety being key. In order to ensure food security, productivity and food production levels need to be increased.
Ten myths about food production
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.
Safe Use of Highly Effective Pesticides
If Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP), as they are known, are handled and used correctly, they are safe. In many countries, indeed, they are the only solution for saving lives,
Climate change threatens the future of coffee
By 2050, 50 percent of the areas used for coffee cultivation could disappear. The two largest coffee producers, Brazil and Vietnam, would be particularly affected.
Chemistry is everything - it also protects against natural poisoning
Professor Nuno Maulide is Director of the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Vienna. The Portuguese-born professor talks about misunderstood chemistry in an interview with Visao, a Portuguese news magazine.
Sustainable nutrition with algae
The greatest challenge facing today's agriculture industry is to produce healthy foods that do not place undue stress on the planet. Algae could one day represent an important piece of the puzzle in food production.
Does the world even need genome-edited plants?
This question is often raised by opponents of modern breeding methods. As is almost always the case: The market provides an answer. And it looks pretty clear.
Nutrition: Health for the entire planet
The nutrition of the future should ensure that all people have access to the necessary nutrients and be healthy for the planet as well. Such a “planetary health diet” requires urgent innovation. That much is certain.
11 Megatrends: "Avalanches in slow motion"
The world is changing. The complexity is great and that makes it difficult to keep track in everyday life. Megatrends provide orientation here. They outline the main lines of change.
From stem cell to steak
Meat production consumes a lot of resources. And for a wide variety of reasons, people are eating less meat or even giving it up entirely. A growing number of companies are therefore looking into alternative methods of producing meat – for example, in a lab.
Climate change requires precision cultivation
We need robust new crop varieties to protect harvests against invasive pests. Innovative methods, such as precision cultivation using gene editing, can help plant breeding keep pace with climate change.
Drought-tolerant maize as a response to climate change
Climate change poses increasing challenges for agriculture. Plant breeding is therefore working at full speed to develop varieties with better resistance to environmental stress.
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Acceptance of animal-free milk products is growing
Producing animal-based products is a very resource-intensive process. And for a wide variety of reasons, some people refrain from eating meat and/or dairy products. This is why companies are conducting more research into “animal-free” animal products.
COVID-19 triggers a boom in functional food
During the COVID-19 crisis, demand for functional food and nutritional supplements has grown worldwide. Consumers have become more conscious of the importance of healthy nutrition.
Agricultural production in the EU to drop by 20 percent
The European Green Deal would reduce the amount of agricultural production in the EU and lower farmers’ incomes.
More sustainability for people and the environment
Royal DSM strives to reduce malnutrition around the world, lower emissions from animal farming and strengthen the livelihoods of small farmers by 2030.
Openness to gene editing if it offers concrete benefits
The public is very open to the use of innovative technologies in agriculture. This also applies to targeted plant breeding using modern methods like gene editing.
Food trends: Innovative technologies are indispensable
Climate change and environmental problems will change our eating habits. The food of the future will have to be both good for us – and good for the planet.
Tomatoes: From "water bomb" to aromatic fruit
The diversity of commercially marketed tomato varieties is greater today than ever before. This has to do in particular with the breeding of new varieties.
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Risks to Swiss food security
Despite the Covid 19 pandemic, food security in Switzerland was guaranteed at all times. Still, we should not feel a false sense of security.
Finally, a golden age for golden rice
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide, as many as 500,000 children go blind every year due to a lack of vitamin A. Roughly half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight. This miserable situation could be greatly eased if the affected children had access to an inexpensive, everyday food containing an adequate amount of vitamin A.
Do without Swiss rapeseed oil?
Rapeseed is the most important Swiss oil crop and it continues to gain in importance. Unpopular palm oil imports are increasingly being replaced by Swiss rapeseed oil.
«Pesticides are becoming increasingly toxic»
This is the opposite of the truth. Over the last few decades, pesticides have become safer and safer. New active ingredients are subjected to extremely stringent approval processes.
“Genetic engineering endangers health”
It is often said that genetically modified foods are not safe and could have a negative impact on human and animal health. However, these claims cannot be substantiated by facts.
"Organic products can feed the world"
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.
“More than 200,000 deaths annually due to pesticide poisoning”
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.
«Pesticides are a technology that support civilization»
Synthetic pesticides enabled the transition at the end of the 19th century from an era of periodic famines to an age of food security. For this reason, it is clear to the University of Göttingen’s Professor Andreas von Tiedemann that pesticides are a cornerstone of modern society.
Facts about drinking water and limit values
'Pure' water is either a tasteless distillate or a selling point. As natural products, neither tap water nor branded water is 'pure'. However, both can be drunk without hesitation.
Difference between risk and danger
Danger and risk are often confused in the discussion surrounding pesticides. Sometimes the two terms are even used synonymously. That is as incorrect as it is negligent, because dangerous substances do not always present a high risk. By the same token, substances that are not considered to be dangerous can indeed pose a risk. Danger and risk are therefore not identical.
Synthetic has many benefits
Synthetic pesticides are often automatically viewed as problematic compared with natural pesticides. But this is a misconception. It is not possible to make any general statements about toxicity based on the production method alone.
Scientists urge common sense
The second Swiss-Food Talk was attended by three internationally recognised experts from the fields of toxicology, water protection and food safety. They discussed the handling of limit values and the partly wrong interpretation in the public discourse. The scientists pleaded for more objectivity.
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Plant breeding for resource-efficient farming
Climate change, pests, population growth and ever-scarcer resources pose major challenges for farmers around the world. And being able to produce sufficient food in a manner that is as environmentally-friendly as possible requires increasingly robust plant varieties.
Animal feed: Domestic rapeseed instead of imported soy
The protein-rich press residues of rapeseed would be ideally suited as feed for livestock with the help of "genome editing". Instead of imported soy, domestic rapeseed could be fed to animals.
Hightech im Pflanzenschutz: «GPS statt Feuerwehrschaum»
Technologischer Fortschritt und Digitalisierung machen auch vor der Landwirtschaft nicht halt. Im Gegenteil.
Ten reasons for the use of pesticides
Less food loss, less food waste, less disease, cheaper food and more protection for natural spaces.
Food waste is harmful to the environment and to the wallet
In the Swiss food chain – from producers to consumers – considerable amounts of food are lost each year, which would still be perfectly suitable for consumption.
Combating food waste with packaging and preservatives
The longer food lasts, the less likely it is to be thrown away. Chemical procedures and packaging materials are vital for preserving food. In its online magazine, BASF examines how food preservation techniques have developed and explains the importance of chemicals are in combating food waste. Preservatives are an effective way of combating food waste.
"Natural is healthy, chemicals are toxic."
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.
"Swiss water is in a bad way."
That's not actually true. Our surface waters, groundwater and drinking water are in very good condition. Our water quality tops international rankings. There cannot be any mention of poor Swiss water quality.
"Pesticides are to blame for insect deaths."
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.
"Pesticides damage the climate."
Pesticides are bad for the climate? No, the exact opposite is true. Plant protection products help to produce more food on less usable space and thus protect the soil.
"Organic products do not require pesticides."
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.