Agroecology 2 min

Alternatives to chemical pesticides: 24 European research institutes undertake an ambitious roadmap

PRESS RELEASE - A strong demand from public authorities, agriculture professionals, and society in general, all over Europe, has spurred collaborative research in order to accelerate the agroecological transition. To face a challenge of this magnitude the joint declaration of intent “Towards a Chemical Pesticide-free Agriculture” aims to rethink the way research is carried out and develop new common research and experimentation strategies, not just at a national level, but throughout the whole continent. This declaration was signed today by 24 research organisations from 16 European countries. Driven by the French Institute INRAE and its German counterparts ZALF and JKI, this unprecedented endeavour has brought the European research community together around this ambitious vision of an agriculture free of chemical* pesticides. The declaration, formalised on 23 February at the Paris International Agricultural Show, with support of the french Mnistries in charge of Agriculture and Research, in presence of Amelie de Montchalin, The French State Secretary of EU Affairs, establishes a European research alliance, aiming to build a scientific roadmap that will soon be presented to the European Commission, as a contribution to the European Green Deal.

Published on 23 February 2020

illustration Alternatives to chemical pesticides: 24 European research institutes undertake an ambitious roadmap
© INRAE - Christophe MAITRE

For almost 18 months, INRAE and its German partners from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and the German Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (JKI) have been building a dialogue among European researchers and stakeholders with the purpose of setting a common research strategy. Their objective was ambitious: to define a new transdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research strategy that will allow them to offer solutions for the transition towards a chemical* pesticide-free agriculture all around the continent. Today, 24 European research institutes signed a declaration of intent to share this bold vision. This agreement echoes the European Green Deal for a sustainable ecological transition in Europe, which was announced by the European Commission in December 2019 to encourage the adoption of ambitious measures. The measures announced involve multiple sectors—agriculture, food, and the environment—with the objective of developing a sustainable agriculture and producing healthy food, while maintaining productive and economically sound agrifood systems.

Through their network, the 24 signatory organisations have already drawn up multiple common research avenues, such as establishing a better use of agroecological principles to develop disease resistant production systems, exploiting the high potential of plant selection, developing the use of new technologies and agro-equipments, and understanding the levers and obstacles of the socio-economic transition, among others. The roadmap being devised calls into question the current research methods by integrating systemic and multidisciplinary approaches. The new methods must reinforce the links between the production of knowledge and the experimentation process, both in the lab and in the field. The goal is an open science system, where researchers work closely together with the world of agriculture to implement changes promptly, sharing their work and its results all over the continent, including all types of agriculture, and integrating the variety of climates and soils in order to test the alternative solutions at a bigger scale.    

These 24 research institutions decided to act together to find alternatives to the use of chemical pesticides in Europe and to support national and European public policies.

The signatories 

  1. Aarhus University, Denmark
  2. Agricultural Academy, Bulgaria
  3. Agricultural University of Athens, Greece
  4. Agroscope, Switzerland
  5. Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Italy
  6. Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, France
  7. Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy
  8. Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Hungary
  9. French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment– INRAE, France
  10. Institute of Agriculture and Food Biotechnology – IBPRS, Poland
  11. Julius Kühn-Institute – JKI, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Germany
  12. Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Latvia
  13. Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research – ZALF, Germany
  14. National Agriculture Research and Innovation Centre – NAIK, Hungary
  15. Natural Resources Institute Finland – Luke, Finland
  16. Rzeszow University of Technology, Poland
  17. Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy
  18. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences – SLU, Sweden
  19. Szent István University, Hungary
  20. Teagasc - Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland
  21. University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine - USAMV – Bucharest, Romania
  22. University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland
  23. Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, Lithuania
  24. Zagreb University, Faculty of Agriculture, Croatia

* Synthetic pesticides and other substances harmful to the environment and human health such as copper.


Memorandum of understanding / joint declaration of intent – between the partners of the European Alliance ‘Towards a Chemical Pesticide-free Agriculture »