Exploring the benefits of biocontrol for sustainable agriculture

In creating a sustainable and healthy food system, reducing the pressure on the environment is key. As a non-chemical and targeted input, biocontrol can offer a systemic and balanced solution for sustainable agriculture. This new report explores the benefits of biocontrol and the role it could play in the implementation of the European Green Deal.

The effect of plant protection methods on biodiversity and health are now at the centre of political and technical discussions. In face of the upcoming revision of the Sustainable Use Directive, a milestone within the implementation of the Green Deal objectives, it is essential to explore sustainable alternatives.

As a non-chemical and targeted input, biocontrol can offer a systemic and balanced solution for sustainable agriculture. Biocontrol forms an understanding of the farm ecosystem of life cycles, insects’ behaviour and the influence of agronomic practices on plant health. It thereby becomes a key enabler of the European Green Deal, particularly for the Farm-to-Fork objectives.

This report gathers evidence on the role that biocontrol can play in sustainable agriculture, particularly in terms of benefits for biodiversity. The literature review examines definitions around biocontrol, the literature on benefits with regard to biodiversity, soil and human health, current efficacy levels and market position, and potential wider impacts on farm economics and climate considerations.

Top five policy recommendations

  • Definition: Using a common EU definition on biocontrol would bring clarity of its technical aspects to the political discussion on pest control for sustainable agriculture.
  • Legal framework: Adapting the current EU legal framework to recognise the non-toxic implications of biocontrol, in comparison to chemical products, should be considered.
  • Alignment opportunities: By increasing the uptake of biocontrol use, as part of IPM, the CAP can be better aligned with the SDGs and the Farm-to-Fork strategy – in creating a pathway for achieving the 2030 targets on organic farming and chemical pesticide reduction.
  • Research needs: Extending research topics and investment beyond technical issues to biocontrol’s relation to climate change mitigation and farm economics will create a more holistic image of the impact of the use of biocontrol.
  • Field application: Pushing for larger scale and accelerated application, supported by available policy instruments in the Common Agricultural Policy, will show the potential that biocontrol demonstrates for controlling plant pests and diseases, in support of EU Green Deal targets.

Read the press release for a summary of key findings and recommendations.