Developments in Biological Control in the EU
During the 2023 Dublin PPP Symposium in November, Jeroen Meeussen, Regulatory Adviser at IBMA spoke about the current developments in biological control in the EU.
Jeroen started by presenting the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA). This organization is the voice of the biocontrol technologies industry and advocates for proportionate regulation of the wide range of solutions that they offer. IBMA has more than 230 members, of which a majority of around 85% are small or medium-sized companies.
After this, Jeroen explained some general concepts related to biocontrol, starting with the definition of biocontrol itself. Jeroen highlighted that a comprehensive EU definition of biocontrol is still needed. According to Dunham Trimmer biocontrol is the area of the biological products that ranges from biopesticides (microorganisms, semiochemicals and natural extracts) to macroorganisms. The definition excludes biological products like microbial and non-microbial biostimulants.
For biocontrol products, the data requirements are stated in Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009 and the timelines for approval for a biocontrol active substance are between 30 and 44 months, and for renewal range from 29 to 32 months. In reality, the practical timelines differ from the theoretical ones, given the waiting periods and the final evaluation; the whole process tends to last 8 to 10 years.
Regarding microorganisms, the data requirements are updated recently differentiating them from the chemical active substances, in addition a risk assessment considering the metabolites generated by these microorganisms was added and the IBMA recently published a guidance document on bacteriophages.
The next subgroup is semiochemicals, defined as substances emitted by plants or animals used for intra and interspecies communication. They are target-specific and have non-toxic modes of action. The most common semiochemicals are the pheromones and IBMA recently published a project proposal to enlarge the definition of strain chain insect pheromones and straight chain arthropod pheromons as well as a position paper about a comparison of the global framework for semiochemicals.
Natural substances are a big part of the biocontrol sector, and they are categorized in three groups:
- Group 1 – no unacceptable effects and food grade
- Group 2 – may contain components of possible concern
- Group 3 – not based on a material with an established specification
Jeroen mentioned the IBCAs are defined as beneficial insects, mites and entomopathogenic nematodes. IBMA recently published a study report on IBCAs but it is still under development at EU level. At the moment, it is recommended to use the EPPO list to check which IBCAs are permitted to use in biocontrol.
In conclusion, biocontrol is growing very fast year after year and is helping to reach the objectives of the EUGreen Deal to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50%. IBMA has provided a study with a consolidated pipeline of biocontrol between 2023-2028 to comply with the Green Deal objectives. By 2028 IBMA foresees 75 new biocontrol active substances reaching at least 28 million hectares of potential land.
If you missed the PPP Symposium, a copy of all the presentations is available on the publications section of the Kerona website https://kerona.ie/product/ppp-symposium-presentations/
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