Healthy crops equal food safety

Over the past years, scientific advances have provided consumers with a wide range of affordable, high-quality food. However, the modernization of agriculture has raised new concerns regarding food safety, especially when it comes to pesticide use. BASF is committed to providing farmers and consumers with safe and effective crop protection solutions to ensure sustainable, productive agriculture.

For farmers, pesticides are an important tool in their overall crop management portfolio. The challenge is to deliver high volume, high quality yields at affordable prices, while simultaneously meeting the high standards demanded by both consumers and retailers.

Crop protection for high quality, high volume yields

Crops must compete with 30,000 species of weeds, 3,000 species of nematodes and 10,000 species of plant-eating insects, all of which can seriously impact harvest yield. Naturally occurring fungal diseases also threaten unprotected plants. These are not only capable of causing substantial harvest losses but crops can also be contaminated by mycotoxins, highly toxic substances, produced by the fungus itself.

Today, major crop failures or famines in countries with well-developed agricultural sectors have thankfully been confined to history. However, farmers still lose 20 to 40 percent of their annual harvest due to weeds, pests and plant diseases. Without crop protection, this figure would be twice as high.

Safety comes first

Pesticides are only authorized in the first place if an independent, expert risk assessment – undertaken under a set of unfavourable circumstances and incorporating high safety margins – consistently verifies that any residues remaining after proper use of the product are below the safety levels for consumers. In terms of usage, farmers comply with good agricultural practice, following the principle of using pesticides only when needed and then, as little as possible.

In addition to the safety standards, separate trading standards, called Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) are also in place to check whether a pesticide has been correctly applied.

Exceeding the maximum residue levels does not usually pose a risk to health as trading standards are usually far below safety limits, which, in themselves, include wide safety margins. However, it does indicate that the pesticide has been incorrectly used. The crop protection industry views any violation of trading standards as unacceptable practice and is committed to eliminating this problem.