The new EU project BIOCOMES offers farmers and foresters the prospect of having at least eleven new biological control products at their disposal. The biological control products are designed to combat diseases such as powdery mildew in cereals, brown rot in stone fruit and pest insects like gypsy moth and pine weevil in forestry. The new products will offer fresh alternatives for major pesticide applications in European agriculture and forestry.
The replacement of chemical control by biological alternatives is an increasingly important topic for farmers and foresters in Europe. EU regulations and the resulting national action plans in the European countries are restricting the use of chemical control. Moreover, the maximum residue limits (MRL) applied by legislation are increasingly strict and, the demand for even lower residues from buyers in the food industry is growing. Last but not least, there is a risk of plant pathogens developing resistance to chemical control products. Biological control is therefore a useful and necessary part of growers’ crop protection programmes. The EU is giving a major boost to the biological control market in co-financing the BIOCOMES project, which is being coordinated by dr.Jürgen Köhl from Wageningen UR.
Biological control is based upon the natural enemies of harmful organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes and insects. These natural enemies are bred by manufacturers and sold as ready-to-use control products. Growers can use biological control to replace all or part of their chemical control efforts. Biological control products can also be used in organic farming.
The selected BIOCOMES products were identified through a market analysis by six European manufacturers of biological control products. The project combined the expertise of ten SMEs, three larger industrial partners and fourteen research partners. The 27 partners are divided over fourteen countries.
Economic and environmental sustainability
The BIOCOMES project pays special attention to the economic sustainability of products during the development process, as well as their environmental sustainability. The latter is quantified for each biological control product by means of a Sustainable Process Index method, an ecological footprint measurement. The developmental process for each product is guided by a consultancy partner specialised and leading in chemical and biological plant protection product registration, including risk assessments for European pesticide and bio-control industries. This approach guarantees a quick and successful introduction to the market for each biological control product developed.
The total budget of the BIOCOMES project is around twelve million euros. The EU is contributing almost nine million.
The acronym BIOCOMES stands for: “Biological control manufacturers in Europe develop novel biological control products to support the implementation of Integrated Pest Management in agriculture and forestry”.