Navigating pesticide regulation for sustainable pest management in olive groves and vineyards

The pesticides legal watch developped by Vitagora in the frame of the NOVATERRA project provides a comprehensive analysis of pesticide regulation within the European Union for olive groves and vineyards and its implications. The last update of the document, with information up to date to end 2023, unveils a concerning pattern of active substance expiration, particularly in olive groves, where critical substances for combating diseases like bacteriosis and pests like olive flies are on the brink of expiry. The situation for grapevines appears less problematic than for olive groves by the fact that, although there is a “peak” of expiry for certain major grapevine disorders in the period 2023-2024 (black rot, botrytis, powdery mildew, downy mildew, grapevine bunch moth, Brenner disease), no shortage of active substances for these diseases is expected before 2025/2030.

The document also discusses the growing litigation and civil society mobilisation concerning pesticide use, reflecting heightened public concern over environmental and health impacts.
To address the challenges identified, policymakers should prioritize strengthening the implementation of Integrated Pest Management principles outlined in existing directives. This includes promoting low-input pest control methods, encouraging the adoption of non-chemical alternatives, and enhancing monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Additionally, efforts should focus on harmonizing EU-wide risk indicators, improving transparency in decision-making processes, and fostering collaboration between stakeholders to promote innovation and sustainable agricultural practices. Embracing precision agriculture technologies and investing in research for nature-based alternatives can further support the transition towards a safer, more environmentally friendly food system.