Low-risk pesticides (LRP) including (i) plant extracts (ii) semiochemicals like pheromones and allelochemicals, (iii) microbial pesticides, are gaining ground in the global market, as substitutes of synthetic pesticides. In addition, new microbial solutions (phages, protists, microbial consortia) and ds-RNA pesticides are emerging, low-risk solutions expect to reach the market in coming years. Despite ongoing regulatory efforts by the European Commission, we are still lacking a concrete risk assessment (RA) scheme relevant to LRPs, a point which blocks LRPs reaching the EU market.
RATION timely comes to address these regulatory constraints and aims to develop a novel RA scheme, supported by the necessary guidance on methods and tools, tailored to the specific characteristics of established and emerging LRP solutions. This main goal will be achieved through a series of interrelated WPs aiming (i) to map the current status of LRPsin Europe and identify main regulatory constraints (WP1). In this quest it will be supported by a stakeholders forum composed of all relevant actors (industry, regulators, academics, farmers, general public); (ii) to develop and validate, through a proof-of-concept exercise, innovative RA (and associated tools) for microbials (WP2), plant extracts, semiochemicals, pheromones (WP3) and, ds-RNA (WP4); and from there (iii) build a harmonized RA for all LRP and determine its socioeconomic impact (WP5), (iv) to effectively communicate and disseminate the new RA knowledge and its associated tools developed by RATION to relevant actors ensuring sustainability beyond project duration (WP6). RATION will benchmark EU regulatory science, uplift blockers holding back LRP uptake by the EU market and motivate research innovation in plant protection. To achieve these goals 22 partners from academia, industry and regulatory bodies, representing 10 member states and 2 non-EU member states, will join forces in a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary effort.