“Current-IPM-Fit”: a new proposal for enhanced efficacy labelling of plant protection products
In the European Union, plant protection products (PPP) undergo an intensive evaluation procedure including toxicology, ecotoxicology, fate and residues for approval of the active substance. On product level, additionally the efficacy against pests and adverse effects on pest antagonists and on the cultivated plant itself, i.e. phytotoxicity, are evaluated. Currently, a development towards a two-class classification system takes place in which PPP with low impact in risk categories (“low-risk products”) can be approved with reduced efficacy requirements. Other parallel registration pathways that include limited or no evaluation of efficacy exist for basic substances and minor-use registrations. Nevertheless, registration of a product does not give information of its efficacy level in many European countries. The situation for the effects of PPP on antagonists of practical relevance in growing systems is similar: up to date, there is a lack of information on relevant antagonists because the evaluation and registration process include mostly information about the standard indicator organisms Typhlodromus pyri and Aphidius rhopalosiphi. As a consequence, information on efficacy levels on target pests and side effect levels on relevant pest antagonists are to date mainly provided by private companies, mainly PPP-producing companies and beneficial organisms-producing companies. Unfortunately, it is not transparent on which observations and experiments these ratings base on, i.e. these ratings do not undergo an independent evaluation process. But verified knowledge on efficacy and side effects on relevant antagonists are vital for successful IPM strategies. Both, efficacy and side effects on pest antagonists must be considered together in order to foresee the outcome of a PPP application in an agricultural system. Therefore, the aim of this opinion paper is to propose a standardized European labelling system that displays efficacy levels and side effect levels on beneficial arthropods other than bees.