COP15 agreement secures Canadian agriculture industry's access to technology, crop protection

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This month, representatives from nearly 200 countries, met in Montreal for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The goal of this COP15 was to hammer out an agreement on conservation and biodiversity protection.

Pierre Petelle, president of CropLife Canada, says that going in to the meeting, there was real concern over if certain goals would be pushed forward, including a pesticide reduction goal.

“I think we in agriculture can all breathe a bit of a sigh of relief, today, compared to if some of the original proposed text had been had remained in the in the final version,” Petelle says. “Europe had some very, very strong proposals in there and in early drafts, that that would have been extremely problematic for for countries like ours that are highly agriculture dependent. In the end, the science prevailed and the Canadian delegation as well as delegations from different parts of the world basically stood up against some of that and and let the science prevail so that things like innovation and language like sustainable intensification, things like food security, that language made it into the final final draft.” (more below the audio)

Instead of a pesticide use reduction figure, the agreement hones in on  pesticide risk reduction as it relates to pollution.

“If a pesticide is being applied to a field to control a certain pest pressure, that’s not pollution, ” he says. Instead, the language in the agreement is very much in line with what agriculture as a whole can strive for: reducing drift and off-target movement or applications.

There is also a commitment by the parties to a “30 by 2030” global target, where the goal is to have 30 per cent of the Earth’s oceans and land protected by 2030. More details are needed on what, exactly, protection means and that will be hammered out in the in the coming months and years.

Less talked about in the media is the discussion of sustainable intensification included in the agreement. “[Sustainable intensification refers to] efficiency and productivity, production systems that contribute to food security, so all this type of language will will make it much much more feasible for countries like ours to really embrace and adopt innovation and still be contributing towards these goals, ” Petelle says.

To clarify, sustainable intensification is the premise where land that is currently under production needs to produce more, but in a way that’s sustainable and positive for soil. The term, Petelle says, lends itself very well to innovative products in the crop protection, technology, and genetics sphere.

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