Welcome to the digital seminar "Reaping the benefits of microorganisms in cropping systems: Is the regulatory policy adequate?" with Professor Ingvar Sundh from SLU Centre for Biological Control.
Microorganisms provide vital functions and ecosystem services in food plant cropping systems. Important areas are biological pest and disease control, promotion of plant growth and crop quality, and biological degradation of organic matter and pollutants. Beneficial effects of microorganisms can be accomplished, or enhanced, by agricultural management measures targeting the resident microbial biodiversity, or by augmentation with domesticated and propagated microbial strains.
This seminar will contain a review and critical discussion of the current legislation and regulatory policies for plant beneficial microorganisms in the EU, with special emphasis on microbiological pest/disease control and plant growth stimulation. Whereas conservation approaches involving stimulation of resident microorganisms are essentially unregulated, microorganisms for augmentative use in cropping systems are usually regulated.
The intended effect and the product claim determine how a microorganism and the corresponding products are categorized and pre-market authorization can be compulsory. Microbial products are typically regulated under frameworks that were designed for evaluating non-living substances, which appear not well adjusted to the specific properties of live microorganisms.
A main conclusion is that regulatory harmonization in this sector has potential to stimulate technical development and facilitate implementation of crop management methods employing microorganisms. Possible scenarios for regulatory revision in the longer term will be discussed, but further investigations into their feasibility are needed.