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Mobilizing research efforts to accelerate the agro-ecological transition responds to a strong demand from public officials, professionals and society, both in France and in Europe. To address this major challenge, rethinking the way that research should be conducted and developing a common research and experimental strategy not just at the national level is the subject of the declaration “For an agriculture without chemical pesticides.” This declaration was signed today by 24 research organizations in 16 European countries. Under the leadership of the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) and its German counterparts ZALF and JKI, this unprecedented commitment allows for the mobilization of an entire research community around a share vision of agriculture without chemical pesticides. This declaration, formalized during the Paris International Agricultural Show on Feb. 23, with the support of French government, sets up a European research alliance, which will finalize a roadmap to be presented soon to the European Commission to contribute to the Green Deal for Europe.

For more than 18 months, INRAE and its German partners have initiated the construction of a dialogue at the European scale between researchers and open to other interested parties. The goal is ambitious: To define a new research strategy, multidisciplinary in nature, providing solutions for transitioning to an agricultural system without chemical pesticides across the European continent. Today, 24 European research organizations signed on to the declaration to carry this ambitious vision. This commitment echoes the Green Deal for Europe, announced by the European Commission in Dec. 2019 to encourage a sustainable environmental transition at the continental scale through encouraging very ambitious measures. These measures concern several sectors, including agriculture, food and the environment. They aim in particular to develop sustainable agriculture and to produce healthy food all while maintaining productive and economically viable agricultural and food systems.

These 24 research organizations, from France, Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Switzerland, through setting up their network, have already laid out several common research tracks: better using agro-ecological approaches in order to develop production systems that are more disease-resistant, exploiting the strong potential of plant selection, developing the use of digital tools and new technologies and equipment, and others.