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.
The ‘pepper patent’ controversy
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.
Green genetic engineering: A rethink is required
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.
Sri Lanka: Pesticide ban with disastrous consequences
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.
Approval backlog due to environmental organizations
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.
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Consumption of organic meat declining
The Swiss are eating less and less meat that is marked with a special label. At the same time, per capita consumption of meat is increasing again for the first time in a long time. This is the result of an analysis by Swiss Animal Welfare (STS).
Viticulture: Fungus-resistant grape (FRG) varieties need plant protection too
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.
Switzerland needs to import more bread grain
The industry organisation Swiss Granum has applied to the Federal Government for an increase in the import quota for bread grain. Last year's domestic crop yields and stocks are not sufficient to meet this year's demand.
The conflict in Ukraine forces us to look beyond our own borders
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.
Urban beekeeping is endangering biodiversity
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.
Agriculture does not come from the office chair
The many new rules mean that farmers face almost impossible tasks. As is so often the case, well-intentioned regulation makes everyday solutions for resource-efficient production impossible.
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,
The temptation of the popular
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.
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Climate change: lower harvests starting as early as 2030?
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.
«An area one and a half times the size of the EU»
The world’s population will increase to roughly 10 billion by 2050. Urs Niggli is therefore convinced that we need to make more productive use of existing land. This also means using gene editing.
Canton of Zurich: Up to 90 percent fewer grapes
The wet summer had a disastrous impact on the grape harvest. Conditions were ideal for mildew and other diseases and pests. In the canton of Zurich, the grape harvest was 50 percent smaller than usual.
When copper no longer helps
The wet summer in 2021 led to losses of as much as 80 percent for potato farmers. Organic farms were hit especially hard. Even the massive use of copper was unable to save harvests in many cases.
Eastern Switzerland's Wine Harvest: It is not possible without plant health protection
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.
More organic does not mean more biodiversity
According to a team of researchers at the University of Göttingen, the key to more biodiversity lies in a landscape mosaic of natural habitats and small and diverse areas of cultivation.
«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.
"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.