Research investment into new agrochemical products declines in Europe

There are fewer new solutions available for farmers to protect their crops. This is what has emerged from a recent study commissioned by the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) which depicts the situation to be in decline all over Europe regarding investments in R&D in the agrochemical industry. There is evidence that agrochemical companies, due to restrictive norms imposed by the EU, have been forced to cut funds going towards researching innovative, efficient and sustainable solutions for crop protection, with repercussions on the European agricultural system causing it to lose ground in the global marketplace.
The consequence has been a drastic drop in the number of active ingredients developed and introduced in the EU over the past years. In fact, while four new solutions where introduced every year in Europe during the 80s and 90s, the study shows that this number has dropped to 1.2 between 2005 and 2014. Furthermore the percentage of global investment focused on the European market for the development of new products adds up to only 7.7% compared to 33% in the 1980s. According to the study, not only has the number of companies dedicated to R&D declined from 34 in 1995 to 17 in 2012, but also the focus of the research itself has changed to one more centred on improving genetic varietals. The use of funds has shifted as well and they are often spent now to defend commercial products no longer covered by patents (i.e. development of new formulation techniques). Thus, according to the findings of the study, the system of European registration, which is the most stringent regarding crop protection products, seems to be pushing companies to invest outside of Europe.

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