After over a year of discussions and negotiations, the Member States of the European Union have ruled on the future of copper in agriculture, an active ingredient particularly used in organic agriculture against mildew and a basic ingredient of the famous “Bordeaux mash”.
They have decided to re-approve it for seven more years, but will decrease the maximum amount allowed, from 6 to 4 kilos per year.
In organic farming, copper has become the only alternative allowed to fight certain diseases despite its adverse effects on soils.
The yield and quality losses in the event of a ban on these products in organic farming would have been 10 to 15% for vegetable and ornamental crops, 15 to 20% for potatoes and around 50 to 100% for hops, wine and fruit, according to estimates by Copa Cogeca (the European agricultural organization).
The decision is therefore welcomed by Paris and Brussels who defended this renewal unlike some countries in northern Europe where the substance has already been banned in the fields.
Some farmers, however, feel that they will have to leave the organic field and switch to a standard agriculture to maintain their exploitation. Without copper, some farmers are in fact facing technical dead ends. Denmark, for example, lost 1/5 of its organic potato production, following its decision to ban this product.
“Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a goodquality of life for all involved.”