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Innovation Critical in Fight to Save Food

September 20, 2012

BRUSSELS, September 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

Study finds innovation key driver of European agricultural productivity,
competitiveness

Against a backdrop of food-price spikes and calls for action on global food security,
an assessment of the economic importance of a key class of crop protection chemicals has
confirmed the value of hi-tech solutions for sustainable productive agriculture and
underlined the essential contribution of research and development.

The Nomisma[i]-led study[ii] establishes that without triazoles[iii], major European
cereal crops would be critically vulnerable to septoria, the most economically damaging
pathogen of European wheat, a devastating fungal infection that can inflict yield losses
of up to 40%[iv].

“If Europe is to remain competitive, we must invest to protect our harvests. Research
and development is costly and time-consuming, but failure to equip farmers with the right
tools for the job will have serious implications on productivity,” said Friedhelm
Schmider, Director General of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA).

Europe is currently a net exporter of wheat, producing 21% of the global harvest;
triazoles support this level of productivity, enabling a competitive European yield of 5.3
t/ha versus a global average of 2.9 t/ha.

“This study underlines the vital contribution of triazoles and the critical importance
of innovation. A slump in European wheat productivity would be a disaster for European
markets and a serious blow to global food security. The harvests that Europe takes for
granted are the fruit of hard-fought innovation,” said Schmider.

European cereal fungicide programmes rely on triazole-based solutions, as the
effectiveness of alternative treatments have become largely ineffective after septoria
quickly developed resistance. Triazole based fungicides have been the backbone in
providing a more resilient defence against septoria, but they are also vulnerable to the
threat of resistance.

“Triazoles are a key mode of action in the way they fight fungal pathogens and
research has demonstrated that by using a variety of triazole-based products, farmers can
reduce the risk of septoria resistance. So far this has been instrumental in maintaining
European wheat harvests, but if we fail to develop new tools, it will only be a matter of
time until resistance strikes,” explained Euros Jones, Regulatory Affairs Director, ECPA.

Maintaining an effective range of triazole-based alternatives is also central to
managing the environmental risk of wheat production. “Innovation brings more efficient
products to the market, and efficient products such as triazoles require a lower frequency
and volume of application – this works to reduce environmental risk,” commented Schmider.
“If a farmer doesn’t have the right compounds to work with in the field, they might need
to compensate for yield losses by putting more land under the plough, at the expense of
natural habitats; they may also have to choose inefficient mechanical treatments, which
enlarge the carbon footprint of farming,” he added.

“Nomisma looked at wheat production, but the conclusions of the study have
significance for the entire range of crops that we grow in Europe. Any loss of important
crop protection solutions, where innovation has not found adequate alternatives, would
negatively affect the quality, variety, availability and price of our food.

“The Nomisma study reveals the necessarily dynamic contribution science and technology
play in support of sustainable agricultural productivity. Pests and pathogens don’t
giveupthefight when scientists develop effective tools; they change and adapt, and so too
must our solutions,” concluded Jones.

To download the press release, please follow the link:

http://www.ecpa.eu/news-item/agriculture-today/09-12-2012/691/innovation-critical-fight-save-food

To download the Nomisma report, please follow the link:

http://www.ecpa.eu/article/agriculture-today/assessment-economic-importance-azoles-european-agriculture-wheat-case-stud

The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) represents the crop protection
industry interests at European level. Its members include all major companies and national
associations across Europe.

i. Nomisma is an Italian economic research institute founded in Bologna in 1981. Since
then, it has carried out research activities and delivered policy advice and technical
assistance to international, national and local public bodies and private enterprises on
applied economic issues, industrial policy, regional planning, development and growth.

ii. ‘The assessment of the economic importance of azoles in European agriculture:
Wheat case study’

iii. Triazoles are a compound of the azole class

iv. If untreated, septoria would be expected to account for between 10 and 20% yield
reduction, a figure could increase to 40% depending on climatic conditions

Contact:

        Euros Jones, Regulatory Affairs Manager, euros.jones@ecpa.eu
        Anna Seretny, Communications Coordinator, anna.seretny@ecpa.eu
        Switchboard: +32(0)2-663-1550

For more general information:

http://www.ecpa.eu – http://www.hungry4change.eu/ [http://www.hungry4change.eu ] -
facebook.com/cropprotection [http://www.facebook.com/cropprotection ] -
twitter.com/cropprotection [https://twitter.com/#!/cropprotection ]

SOURCE The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA)


Source: PR Newswire