A point on:

"Biopesticides" in Europe - can they actually be used  in organic farming?

Date of publication : 13 05 2018


"Biopesticides". That sounds pretty much like: Oh great , farmers can certainly use them in organic farming because they are "bio". Well, things are not that simple, at least not from a regulatory point of view. Let's have a look at how things look from that perspective - let's make a point on: 

Biopesticides and organic farming.

"Biopesticides" are a well established term in the US. They are not - at least not from a regulatory point of view - in the European Union. That is, there is no (at least not yet) a regulatory category called "biopesticides" in the the context of Regulation 1107/2009. However, this regulation contains a derogation for so called "basic substances" and "low risk substances." And then, there is annex II of the organic farming regulation 889/2008 listing substances that are approved for the use in organic farming. Let's have a closer look at these substances.












































Table 1 - List of "basic" and "low risk" substances taken from the EU Pesticides database (Status 10th of May 2018) and active substances authorised for organic farming according to annex II of the European Organic farming regulation 889/2008

A closer look at the listed substances reveals that from the "basic substances" list, only three (calcium hydroxyde, diammonium phosphate and lecithins) are authorised for use in organic farming. From the "low risk" active substance list according to Regulation 1107/2009 most are authorised in organic farming. Only three (cerevisane, COS-OGA and laminarin) are not listed on annex II of the organic farming positive list of substances. Again, let's look closer at these three compounds:

Cerevisane are the cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisae strain LAS117, it can therefore be assumed that cerevisane can be used in organic farming, as micro-organisms are authorised.


COS-OGA is an oligosaccharide complex composed of a polyanionic structure stabilised by one polycationic chain. COS is also known as chitosan and OGA is derived from pectin. The EGTOP (Expert group for technical advice on organic production) concluded in 2016 that COS-OGA responds to all organic production criteria and should be added on Annex II of Organic Farming regulation 889/2008.

Laminarin originates from a brown algae (Laminaria digital) and is produced as a technical concentrate containing max 70g/l of laminarin. Laminarin and COS-OGA have a similar chemical structure and also a similar mode of action. As for COS-OGA, the EGTOP recommends that Laminarin should be in Annex II of the Organic Farming regulation 889/2008.

Most low risk substances are also listed as such on the positive list of substances that can be used in organic farming. This is not the case for most "basic" substances.  Three of the low risk substances are currently not explicitly listed on Annex II of the Organic Farming regulation, and it would be prudent to double-check with the competent authorities on the possibility of their use in pesticides for organic farming, given the recommendation of the EGTOP.

Indeed, some Member States use the term "biopesticides" (such as the UK) and these contain, for instance, microbial, plant extracts of semiochemicals. However, there is no harmonised approach throughout Europe and the category "biopesticides" is not used everywhere. And, more importantly, before you want to market a so-called "biopesticide" for organic farming, make sure that it is compliant with the relevant legislation.


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Pesticidal and Biocidal Active Substances  - an overview

Date of publication : 10 05 2018

Active substances or their metabolites are sometimes found in surface and groundwater. Often the source for this contamination seems to be bad agricultural practices. However, in some cases, the source of contamination could also be a different one and not stem from agricultural uses such as applications on crops.

As a matter of fact, some active substances are also active substances in biocidal products. Hence, we have started our investigation to check which active substances approved for plant protection products are also used in biocidal products. 

To start, active substances being currently approved for plant protection products at European level with an expiry date in 2018 have been checked.

It turns out that currently 8 active substances with an expiry date in 2018 are also approved as active substances in biocides, and their expiry dates are 2-6 years later than the ones for the pesticidal uses.

6 of these 8 substances are insecticides, one active substance is a herbicide, one a fungicide and an other one has an acaricidal activity in addition to its insecticidal function.

Active substances with an expiry date beyond 2018 will be checked now and results shared in due course.

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