For decades, the economy in China took precedence over the environment. In recent years, however, China too has realised that there are limits to what the natural environment can sustain, and the government is working on a stricter pesticide policy based on expertise and models from Wageningen Environmental Research. Researcher Rik van den Bosch needed only five minutes to convince the government that
collaboration would be useful.
If a manufacturer wants to bring a new product to fight diseases and pests onto the Dutch market, the new agent would first have to be thoroughly tested. ‘The government tests such an agent according to three general criteria’, explains Rik van den Bosch. ‘One: does it kill the bug? Is the manufacturer’s claim regarding the agent’s effectiveness true? Two: human toxicology. How bad is the stuff for the farmer’s and the consumer’s health? And three: how bad is the agent for the environment?’
For the last thirty years, Wageningen Environmental Research has been conducting research on the third criterion, the environmental impact of pesticides. Researchers have developed numerous methods to predict the behaviour of pesticides in the environment. Some models calculate how much of the pesticide reaches the groundwater or the surface water. Others show the impact of pesticides on soil life, fish, birds and water plants.
Recent projects and publications by Rik van den Bosch: