As far as GMOs are concerned, the association works with its seed industry colleagues. Again, consumers have very little awareness about the science of biotechnology. They have no knowledge of the benefits, the registration process and how risks are taken into account at industry, regulatory and farm level. As a result they are unwilling to accept GM crops. The transposition of directive 2001/18/EC will give the industry an opportunity to address these issues in a positive manner. The main aim of the directive is to make the procedure for granting consent to the deliberate release and placing on the market of GMOs more efficient and more transparent. It will limit such consent to a period of 10 years and will introduce compulsory monitoring after GMOs have been placed on the market. Public consultation and clearer GM labelling will become compulsory. Hopefully this will help to reverse current negative public opinion.
How has the UIPP addressed any misconceptions about pesticides Do you have an ongoing communication programme and where does it put the main emphasis?
UIPP is committed to addressing the misconceptions that consumers have about pesticides and since 2004 we have been involved in an ongoing communication programme targeting the general public. Our activities started with an open letter published in the leading daily newspapers. This was followed in 2005 by an outreach campaign which was developed with the help of CropLife International. This involved a media campaign, a website and a call centre. Based on the experience gained in 2004 and 2005 and with the support, once again of Croplife International, UIPP is running a new press communication campaign for 2006 that will further address public concerns. There is a new web site at ). The UIPP was recently represented at the SIA (Paris international agriculture trade fare).
What roles do integrated farming and organic production play in French agriculture?
Integrated farming is officially recognised in France thanks to the qualification process which was introduced in 2002. The objective is to have 30% farms accredited by 2008; currently there are some specific incentives in place to encourage more farmers to qualify. Apart from this official recognition, there are many other farmers who have adopted the principle of using the “right product at the right time.” Organic production is currently very limited, less than 3% of the cultivated area, but there are increasing numbers of French consumers willing to buy organic products. As a responsible industry, we must take the organic sector into account and work towards meeting its needs as a part of French agriculture. However, we must make sure that the process for evaluating, registering and using products on organic crops is science based and does not put chemical products at a disadvantage.
31 March 2006 © Market Scope Europe Ltd www.crop-protection-monthly.co.uk