The reduced use of plant protection products is causing much smaller wheat and rapeseed harvests. A study carried out by Swiss Agricultural Research reveals that such crop failures can only be offset by state subsidies. This is neither sustainable nor resource-efficient.
The economic interdependence of the world has increased greatly over the past years and decades. Due to the brisk trade activity between the continents, invasive plant and animal species are also spreading faster and faster. This can lead to serious problems for native vegetation and agriculture. According to the FOEN, the canton of Ticino is particularly affected.
Invasive pests and plant diseases are among the greatest challenges for biodiversity and agriculture. They often enter Switzerland via travel and imported goods and cause great damage to cultivated and wild plants. Since 2020, the import of plants from non-EU countries is prohibited. However, introduced pests are a worldwide problem.
The Japanese beetle was first discovered in Switzerland in 2017 in Ticino. Now it has made it to the northern side of the Alps. After being found in Basel-Stadt and Solothurn, a larger population of the beetles has been found in Kloten for the first time. They are controlled with traps, but also pesticides.
The health of our crops cannot be taken for granted. On the contrary: in our mobile world, pests and plant diseases are spreading like wildfire. Climate change acts as an accelerant. When pests migrate and new plant diseases establish themselves in our latitudes, they can become a threat to native species. The International Plant Health Day on 12 May is a reminder of this. And the day shows: to ensure plant health in the future, research and innovation are needed above all.
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.
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.
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.
The European Patent Office reports more patent applications for 2022 than ever before. A particularly large number of patents were filed in the field of sustainable technologies - such as clean energy. Switzerland is still one of the most innovative countries in the world, ranking seventh in Europe. To ensure that this remains the case, policymakers must continue to advocate for research-friendly framework conditions in the future.
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.
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.
Climate change has a major impact on the distribution of various insect species. There has been a decline in cold-loving insects in Switzerland over the past 40 years. Heat-loving species, on the other hand, have become more widespread. The idea that agriculture alone is to blame for insect extinction is proving to be increasingly wrong.
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.
The nutrition of the future should ensure access to the necessary nutrients for all people and be healthy for the planet. That is the goal. However, developing this kind of “planetary health diet” is not so easy. In the Swiss-Food Talk, experts in science and industry discussed what healthy, environmentally friendly nutrition should look like. One thing is clear: Sustainable food must suit the tastes of the people, meet the specific local needs, and must be affordable.
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.
Patents create transparency about inventions and enable their further development. For research-intensive Switzerland in particular, patents are a central building block in order to remain a leading location for innovation. At the swiss-food talk on 17 May, three representatives from the fields of research, start-up and industry spoke about the reasons for and significance of patents, particularly in plant breeding.
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.
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.
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.
Great Britain has already decided on its first steps, Switzerland has too: The handling of simple genome-edited plants is being made easier.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Climate change poses increasing challenges for agriculture. Plant breeding is therefore working at full speed to develop varieties with better resistance to environmental stress.
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.
The European Green Deal would reduce the amount of agricultural production in the EU and lower farmers’ incomes.
Royal DSM strives to reduce malnutrition around the world, lower emissions from animal farming and strengthen the livelihoods of small farmers by 2030.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Technologischer Fortschritt und Digitalisierung machen auch vor der Landwirtschaft nicht halt. Im Gegenteil.
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.
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.
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.