One of organic agriculture’s defining traits is its approach towards plant health care, relying mainly on preventive and indirect measures within the agroecosystem. As a last resort, organic farmers can combine these with direct measures, if these are based on the use of natural substances. The principles of organic agriculture seek to prevent the introduction of new and alien substances into ecosystems. So, the use of synthetic pesticides is prohibited. More and more European citizens are concerned over synthetic pesticides use. The European Commission’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies call for a substantial reduction of chemical plant protection products as a priority to reach sustainable food systems. Organic farming’s unique approach to plant protection has rightly been identified as essential to reach the Farm to Fork strategy’s target of a 50% reduction in chemical pesticide use. Both strategies also set up a goal to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. A successful reduction of synthetic pesticide use needs to be well-prepared. Alternative approaches like organic agriculture can only lead the way to a truly sustainable agrifood system if the entire political framework enables their development. In specific, policy measures should be coherent and complementary to contribute to the objectives. Healthy agroecosystems with a rich biodiversity are resilient and self-regulating to a large degree, making them a prerequisite for a successful plant health care strategy in organic farming. This is why the protection and increase of biodiversity must be the foundation for new approaches in plant health care. Improving the availability of natural substances should complete the system. A social and ecological transformation of our food system can be successful if farmers have alternative tools and strategies well-adapted to their economic, social and environmental realities.

Ente che ha curato la pubblicazione
Jutta Kienzle, Kevin Smith-Weißmann, Mathilde Calmels, Isabella Lang
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