By Carlos Palomar, General Director of AEPLA.
On December 2, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially presented 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. Through this commemoration, it is intended to increase worldwide awareness of the importance of plant health protection as a basic and indispensable tool to help eradicate hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost development. economic.
At present, plants constitute 80% of the food we eat daily, in addition to generating 98% of the oxygen we breathe, which allows us to get an idea of its essential role not only for our well-being and quality of life, but also For our survival. However, despite their importance, they are constantly threatened, and increasingly frequent, by the appearance of numerous pests and diseases, on which it is necessary to act with all the means at our disposal.
Qu Dongyu, Director General of FAO, said in the presentation of this International Year of Plant Health that “plants are the fundamental basis for life on Earth and are the most important pillar of human nutrition. But having healthy plants is not something we can take for granted. ”
We must bear in mind that both climate change and our behavior as a species are affecting the ecosystems of the Planet, damaging their biodiversity and generating the favorable conditions for these pests and diseases to thrive at a faster rate. Likewise, the effects of globalization, and especially the improvement in the means for the development of travel and the growth of international trade, facilitate the spread of these threats in spaces far from their place of origin, which influences the impact of plant species that are not prepared for these new threats, causing greater damage to native plants, both for agricultural and wild crops.
Therefore, from FAO it is considered essential that, “as with human or animal health, prevention is better than cure in the phytosanitary field.” Indeed, plant health, like human health, begins with prevention, continues with surveillance and ends, if necessary, with healing. And this is where plant protection products play an important role. These solutions are to the plants what medicines to people, protect them from pests, diseases and weeds that threaten them, thus guaranteeing the profitability of farms and a sufficient supply of healthy, safe and affordable food for all the consumers.
The ignorance that exists about these products has generated an incompressible bad image of them, spreading the doubt about their safety. Nothing is further from reality. The safety of the food we consume and that have been protected with phytosanitary products is guaranteed in the first place, thanks to the important effort made by the companies that manufacture them in R&D (developing a new active substance requires an investment of between 250 and 300 million euros and about 11 years of research), secondly, for the strict evaluation controls that must be passed in order to be authorized, and finally, for the correct use that they make the farmers, applying them when strictly necessary, in its fair measure and following the indications of the product label and in the doses prescribed by the technical advisor.
From AEPLA we try to communicate and inform with transparency about the true reality of science applied to agriculture, because as Leonardo Da Vinci said decía the most useful science is that whose fruit is the most communicable ’. 2020 gives us the opportunity to discuss and provide light on Plant Health, which no less unknown is no longer necessary to ensure the food that comes to our tables every day.