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Regional products are more in demand than ever
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Regional products are more in demand than ever

The demand for regional products could hardly be greater. This is shown by a new study by the Zurich School of Business. Consumers even consider regional products to be significantly more sustainable than organic or premium products. To keep up with this trend, it is therefore all the more important to promote modern breeding techniques and plant protection products.

Tomatoes: From «water bomb» to aromatic fruit
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Tomatoes: From «water bomb» to aromatic fruit

The diversity of commercially marketed tomato varieties is greater today than ever before. This has to do in particular with the breeding of new varieties.

Public funds for avoidable crop failures: neither sustainable nor resource-efficient
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Public funds for avoidable crop failures: neither sustainable nor resource-efficient

The reduced use of plant protection products is causing much smaller wheat and rapeseed harvests. A study carried out by Swiss Agricultural Research reveals that such crop failures can only be offset by state subsidies. This is neither sustainable nor resource-efficient.

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Invasive species threaten native plants
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Invasive species threaten native plants

The economic interdependence of the world has increased greatly over the past years and decades. Due to the brisk trade activity between the continents, invasive plant and animal species are also spreading faster and faster. This can lead to serious problems for native vegetation and agriculture. According to the FOEN, the canton of Ticino is particularly affected.

Invasive pests travel with us
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Invasive pests travel with us

Invasive pests and plant diseases are among the greatest challenges for biodiversity and agriculture. They often enter Switzerland via travel and imported goods and cause great damage to cultivated and wild plants. Since 2020, the import of plants from non-EU countries is prohibited. However, introduced pests are a worldwide problem.

Traveling Japanese beetle threatens native plants
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Traveling Japanese beetle threatens native plants

The Japanese beetle was first discovered in Switzerland in 2017 in Ticino. Now it has made it to the northern side of the Alps. After being found in Basel-Stadt and Solothurn, a larger population of the beetles has been found in Kloten for the first time. They are controlled with traps, but also pesticides.

Because plants need protection from pests and diseases
Plant protection Knowledge

Because plants need protection from pests and diseases

The health of our crops cannot be taken for granted. On the contrary: in our mobile world, pests and plant diseases are spreading like wildfire. Climate change acts as an accelerant. When pests migrate and new plant diseases establish themselves in our latitudes, they can become a threat to native species. The International Plant Health Day on 12 May is a reminder of this. And the day shows: to ensure plant health in the future, research and innovation are needed above all.

From Data to Harvests - How Digitization is Improving Agriculture
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From Data to Harvests - How Digitization is Improving Agriculture

Digitalization is making its way into agriculture. At the Swiss-Food Talk on April 25, 2023, three experts from the agricultural machinery industry, vegetable production, and agricultural media discussed how digitization is changing food production. The consensus is that we are in the transition from industrial to smart agriculture, where data and algorithms as support allow precise interventions and serve sustainability.

«How can our agriculture and food system become fit for the new normal?»
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«How can our agriculture and food system become fit for the new normal?»

It is time to say goodbye to millimeter agricultural policy, says Liebegg director Hansruedi Häfliger in view of the global multi-crisis. Farming families should be given back the necessary room for maneuver so that the agriculture and food economy becomes more resilient.

The search for the egg of the future
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The search for the egg of the future

Boiled, stirred, fried: Eggs are not only popular at Easter. At the same time, there is increasing interest in alternatives to the animal protein products that are common in our country. The search for new protein sources therefore does not stop at chicken eggs. The "egg substitute" can come from exotic jellyfish, as well as from a wide variety of plant sources. The result: The demand for protein-rich crops is growing.

More patents for a boost in sustainable technologies
Patents Knowledge

More patents for a boost in sustainable technologies

The European Patent Office reports more patent applications for 2022 than ever before. A particularly large number of patents were filed in the field of sustainable technologies - such as clean energy. Switzerland is still one of the most innovative countries in the world, ranking seventh in Europe. To ensure that this remains the case, policymakers must continue to advocate for research-friendly framework conditions in the future.

The ‘pepper patent’ controversy
Patents Knowledge

The ‘pepper patent’ controversy

The European Patent Office (EPO) has dismissed an appeal by various NGOs against a patent on a bell pepper held by Syngenta. This has been reported in various media. However, the furor whipped up by the media in connection with these plant-related patents is unwarranted. There is no need for plant breeders to fear a ‘patent trap.’ On the contrary, patents promote transparency and help to drive progress.

“Future Food”: From development to shopping basket
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“Future Food”: From development to shopping basket

Protein is a key component in a healthy, balanced diet. However, the majority of protein consumed by humans derives from animals and is extremely resource-intensive to produce. What might alternatives look like? And what needs to happen to enable alternative protein products to end up in consumers’ baskets? At the Swiss-Food Talk, three experts considered the issues.

Glyphosate offers many advantages
Plant protection Knowledge

Glyphosate offers many advantages

Glyphosate is the best-studied herbicide in the world. It is mainly used in agriculture to help farmers efficiently and cost-effectively remove unwanted vegetation from fields before sowing.

Global warming influences the distribution of insects
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Global warming influences the distribution of insects

Climate change has a major impact on the distribution of various insect species. There has been a decline in cold-loving insects in Switzerland over the past 40 years. Heat-loving species, on the other hand, have become more widespread. The idea that agriculture alone is to blame for insect extinction is proving to be increasingly wrong.

“Natural does not always mean sustainable”
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“Natural does not always mean sustainable”

We are reliant on optimized foodstuffs in order to supply the planet’s growing population with healthy, sustainably produced food. However, consumers often view these as “artificial”, and thus “unnatural” – and “natural” is the preferred choice. Of our everyday foods, however, very few are of “natural origin”. They have been optimized by humans over the course of time. But are supposedly “natural” products also healthier and more sustainable? Three presenters took an in-depth look at food optimization in this Swiss-Food Talk.

«How to feed the world without starving the planet»
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«How to feed the world without starving the planet»

The nutrition of the future should ensure access to the necessary nutrients for all people and be healthy for the planet. That is the goal. However, developing this kind of “planetary health diet” is not so easy. In the Swiss-Food Talk, experts in science and industry discussed what healthy, environmentally friendly nutrition should look like. One thing is clear: Sustainable food must suit the tastes of the people, meet the specific local needs, and must be affordable.

How plant breeding innovations are helping to feed a hungry world
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How plant breeding innovations are helping to feed a hungry world

As of 2019, nearly 26% of the globe’s population experienced hunger or did not have regular access to safe and nutritious food. With increasing global populations and a changing climate, this number is estimated to surpass 840 million by 2030.

"Patents on Seeds?!"
Patents Knowledge

"Patents on Seeds?!"

Patents create transparency about inventions and enable their further development. For research-intensive Switzerland in particular, patents are a central building block in order to remain a leading location for innovation. At the swiss-food talk on 17 May, three representatives from the fields of research, start-up and industry spoke about the reasons for and significance of patents, particularly in plant breeding.

Scared to death: These ‘Toxic Ten’ chemicals have been widely detected in many commonly-consumed fruits and vegetables
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Scared to death: These ‘Toxic Ten’ chemicals have been widely detected in many commonly-consumed fruits and vegetables

The Toxic Ten are chemicals in your family’s refrigerator and the government does nothing to stop it; it even takes steps to increase their level in food. They are prevalent in the American diet. Studies in animals have shown that they can pose a significant risk to health. By Kevin Folta in The Genetic Literacy Project.

Circular economy in food production
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Circular economy in food production

Reuse instead of throwing away: The circular economy is gaining in importance in many sectors of the economy. In the future, agricultural production will also increasingly have to take place in cycles. This applies in particular to land use, fertilizer production and animal feed production.

What we can do to reclaim farmland
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What we can do to reclaim farmland

Agriculture is responsible for ensuring that future generations have enough to eat. Farmers must make the most of every option for food production.

Revolution on the farm
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Revolution on the farm

The CRISPR/Cas method will revolutionise parts of plant breeding. The technology is urgently needed to address the challenges facing agriculture in this century and threatening our security of supply.

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Patents: Switzerland leads the way
Patents Knowledge

Patents: Switzerland leads the way

The number of patent applications is an important indicator of a country’s innovative capacity. No other country applies for as many patents per capita as Switzerland. The country should therefore continue to safeguard its ability to provide a research-friendly environment.

Wars and political calculations fuel famine
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Wars and political calculations fuel famine

In the 20th century, an estimated 70 million people died as a result of famine. A look into the history shows: Almost always wars or authoritarian rulers were the cause of hunger.

Genome Editing: Standards are being relaxed all over the world
New Breeding Technologies Knowledge

Genome Editing: Standards are being relaxed all over the world

Great Britain has already decided on its first steps, Switzerland has too: The handling of simple genome-edited plants is being made easier.

New Breeding Technologies (NBT)
New Breeding Technologies Knowledge

New Breeding Technologies (NBT)

Swiss agriculture is under pressure. Due to the changing climatic conditions and increasing weather extremes, the cultivation of many crops has become more demanding. Nevertheless, consumers, processors and trade expect regional and high-quality products at affordable prices.

Sustainable food from the bioreactor
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Sustainable food from the bioreactor

Feed more people and waste less raw materials – we are achieving this goal thanks to "sustainability from the laboratory," Tilo Hühn is convinced. Together with a team of 80 at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the food architect is researching sustainable nutrition solutions.

Using DNA in the air to measure biodiversity
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Using DNA in the air to measure biodiversity

Biodiversity is at risk worldwide. This is particularly evident in the decline in land insects. Researchers are now using DNA traces in the air to detect species. This makes it possible to better measure biological diversity on Earth.

New breeding methods – here to stay
New Breeding Technologies Knowledge

New breeding methods – here to stay

The Swiss Parliament has decided to update the genetic engineering moratorium that has been in place since 2005. The step was overdue. On the occasion of a webinar organized by swiss-food.ch, experts from science and agriculture spoke about the benefits of new biotechnological breeding methods. It became clear: the risks are low, the opportunities are great.

Organic: Luxury at the expense of developing countries
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Organic: Luxury at the expense of developing countries

ZDF takes a look at the organic farming industry in a documentary program. Are organic products actually more sustainable and better for the climate than comparable products from conventional agriculture? From the perspective of resource efficiency, the question must be answered in the negative.

Global facts on world food and agriculture
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Global facts on world food and agriculture

Only thanks to technological progress and modern crop protection will we be able to conserve our resources in the future and at the same time feed more and more people in a healthy way.

Ten applications of new breeding technologies for Switzerland
New Breeding Technologies Knowledge

Ten applications of new breeding technologies for Switzerland

The summer of 2021 has shown how damaging prolonged rain can be for crops. With climate change, the likelihood of extreme weather events will increase. Farmers therefore need improved plant varieties that can withstand heat but also a lot of moisture.

The Future of Agriculture and Climate Change
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The Future of Agriculture and Climate Change

All around the world, we see and feel the effects of climate change on our lives. While it impacts everyone, agriculture is one of the sectors that is at the forefront of climate change – contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time coping with growing our food under increasingly challenging conditions. So, how can we address climate change and take action that makes an impact?

Everything that claims to be “free from pesticides” is not always the best solution
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Everything that claims to be “free from pesticides” is not always the best solution

In the Indian state of Sikkim, it has been forbidden to use synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers since 2016. Western media outlets have been happy to quote this example as proof that switching to completely organic farming works. This does not, however, tell the whole story.

First plant-based corona vaccine
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First plant-based corona vaccine

After just one year of research and development, the first vaccines against Sars-Cov-2 have received approval. The mRNA vaccines are the most effective. However, their production is relatively expensive, and they must be stored constantly at temperatures as low as -70 degrees Celsius. A Canadian company is successfully pursuing an alternative approach: it is using tobacco plants to produce the vaccine.

Can nutrition be healthy and sustainable at the same time?
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Can nutrition be healthy and sustainable at the same time?

Is there a menu plan that is good for our bodies and sustainable at the same time? The answer is yes, but it is also complex. This is the result of research on the online portal “Heidi.news” and the “Sonntagszeitung”.

A new lease on life for unusable farmland
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A new lease on life for unusable farmland

Fertile farmland is one of the most valuable resources in the world. It is vital that degraded agricultural land is restored and made fertile once more. The technology already exists, but financial stimuli are needed to make it happen.

Insects: The protein source of tomorrow?
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Insects: The protein source of tomorrow?

Insects have long been considered the superfood of the future. They are rich in protein, require less land and water, and have a better carbon footprint than conventional meat.

Vegetables protect fruits - and vice versa
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Vegetables protect fruits - and vice versa

Plastic packaging in the grocery trade protects fruit and vegetables from spoilage, but also creates considerable amounts of waste. Together with the Empa, Lidl Switzerland has now developed a protective wrap for fruit and vegetables that is based on renewable raw materials.

A Holistic Approach to Sustainability
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A Holistic Approach to Sustainability

Anything can be sold as “sustainable”. That’s why it’s important to take a closer look at what the term means. On one hand, sustainability includes a time component. On the other hand, it has an ecological, economic, and social dimension.

European agriculture: "Keeping an eye on the global framework"
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European agriculture: "Keeping an eye on the global framework"

Food security in Europe and sustainability in agriculture were topics of discussion at Bayer's agricultural talks in cooperation with the "agrarzeitung". The following issues became clear: Europe cannot be viewed in isolation. Every change in European production has an impact on other regions of the world.

Less crop protection in 2020, probably more in 2021
Plant protection Knowledge

Less crop protection in 2020, probably more in 2021

The federal figures for the volume of plant protection products sold in 2020 offer a contradictory picture: total sales figures for plant protection products have continued to decline. In 2020, 1930 tonnes of plant protection products were sold in Switzerland in total. There was an increase in the sale of plant protection products permitted for use in organic farming. This also includes substances that pose a considerable risk.

Production: More food with fewer resources
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Production: More food with fewer resources

One of the greatest challenges of this century will be to feed an estimated ten billion people in a safe and sustainable manner. To achieve this goal, agriculture needs to become much more productive.

Environment: Use and protect
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Environment: Use and protect

Many innovations arise from observations of nature. Genetic resources often serve as inspiration or basis for new products, drugs and mechanisms of action. Agriculture also uses natural cycles, but at the same time influences them. It is in the farmers' own interest to produce in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Safety and security: Productivity and Trust
Knowledge

Safety and security: Productivity and Trust

In order to be able to feed ten billion people by 2050, substantial effort will be required from the agriculture and research sectors. Security and safety will play a major role in this, with both food security and food safety being key. In order to ensure food security, productivity and food production levels need to be increased.

Ten myths about food production
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Ten myths about food production

Having the “right” diet is playing an increasingly more important role in the lives of a great many people. A healthy lifestyle has become a status symbol. Healthy foods and sustainable production methods have been the subject of many extremely emotional debates. A wide range of outdated ideas and myths have taken root in the minds of a large number of consumers.

Safe Use of Highly Effective Pesticides
Plant protection Knowledge

Safe Use of Highly Effective Pesticides

If Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP), as they are known, are handled and used correctly, they are safe. In many countries, indeed, they are the only solution for saving lives,

Climate change threatens the future of coffee
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Climate change threatens the future of coffee

By 2050, 50 percent of the areas used for coffee cultivation could disappear. The two largest coffee producers, Brazil and Vietnam, would be particularly affected.

Chemistry is everything - it also protects against natural poisoning
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Chemistry is everything - it also protects against natural poisoning

Professor Nuno Maulide is Director of the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Vienna. The Portuguese-born professor talks about misunderstood chemistry in an interview with Visao, a Portuguese news magazine.

Sustainable nutrition with algae
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Sustainable nutrition with algae

The greatest challenge facing today's agriculture industry is to produce healthy foods that do not place undue stress on the planet. Algae could one day represent an important piece of the puzzle in food production.

Nutrition: Health for the entire planet
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Nutrition: Health for the entire planet

The nutrition of the future should ensure that all people have access to the necessary nutrients and be healthy for the planet as well. Such a “planetary health diet” requires urgent innovation. That much is certain.

11 Megatrends: "Avalanches in slow motion"
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11 Megatrends: "Avalanches in slow motion"

The world is changing. The complexity is great and that makes it difficult to keep track in everyday life. Megatrends provide orientation here. They outline the main lines of change.

From stem cell to steak
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From stem cell to steak

Meat production consumes a lot of resources. And for a wide variety of reasons, people are eating less meat or even giving it up entirely. A growing number of companies are therefore looking into alternative methods of producing meat – for example, in a lab.

Climate change requires precision breeding
New Breeding Technologies Knowledge

Climate change requires precision breeding

Central Europe is becoming hotter and drier due to climate change. We need robust new crop varieties to protect harvests against invasive pests. Innovative methods, such as precision breeding using gene editing, can help growers keep pace with climate change.

Drought-tolerant maize as a response to climate change
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Drought-tolerant maize as a response to climate change

Climate change poses increasing challenges for agriculture. Plant breeding is therefore working at full speed to develop varieties with better resistance to environmental stress.

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Acceptance of animal-free milk products is growing
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Acceptance of animal-free milk products is growing

Producing animal-based products is a very resource-intensive process. And for a wide variety of reasons, some people refrain from eating meat and/or dairy products. This is why companies are conducting more research into “animal-free” animal products.

COVID-19 triggers a boom in functional food
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COVID-19 triggers a boom in functional food

During the COVID-19 crisis, demand for functional food and nutritional supplements has grown worldwide. Consumers have become more conscious of the importance of healthy nutrition.

Agricultural production in the EU to drop by 20 percent
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Agricultural production in the EU to drop by 20 percent

The European Green Deal would reduce the amount of agricultural production in the EU and lower farmers’ incomes.

More sustainability for people and the environment
Knowledge

More sustainability for people and the environment

Royal DSM strives to reduce malnutrition around the world, lower emissions from animal farming and strengthen the livelihoods of small farmers by 2030.

Openness to gene editing if it offers concrete benefits
New Breeding Technologies Knowledge

Openness to gene editing if it offers concrete benefits

The public is very open to the use of innovative technologies in agriculture. This also applies to targeted plant breeding using modern methods like gene editing.

Food trends: Innovative technologies are indispensable
Knowledge

Food trends: Innovative technologies are indispensable

Climate change and environmental problems will change our eating habits. The food of the future will have to be both good for us – and good for the planet.

Risks to Swiss food security
Knowledge

Risks to Swiss food security

Despite the Covid 19 pandemic, food security in Switzerland was guaranteed at all times. Still, we should not feel a false sense of security.

Finally, a golden age for golden rice
Knowledge

Finally, a golden age for golden rice

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide, as many as 500,000 children go blind every year due to a lack of vitamin A. Roughly half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight. This miserable situation could be greatly eased if the affected children had access to an inexpensive, everyday food containing an adequate amount of vitamin A.

Do without Swiss rapeseed oil?
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Do without Swiss rapeseed oil?

Rapeseed is the most important Swiss oil crop and it continues to gain in importance. Unpopular palm oil imports are increasingly being replaced by Swiss rapeseed oil.

«Pesticides are becoming increasingly toxic»
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«Pesticides are becoming increasingly toxic»

This is the opposite of the truth. Over the last few decades, pesticides have become safer and safer. New active ingredients are subjected to extremely stringent approval processes.

“Genetic engineering endangers health”
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“Genetic engineering endangers health”

It is often said that genetically modified foods are not safe and could have a negative impact on human and animal health. However, these claims cannot be substantiated by facts.

"Organic products can feed the world"
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"Organic products can feed the world"

To produce the same amount of food, organic agriculture needs around 40 percent more space than conventional agriculture. In order to be able to feed the growing world population completely organically, up to 80 percent more space would be needed in the future.

“More than 200,000 deaths annually due to pesticide poisoning”
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“More than 200,000 deaths annually due to pesticide poisoning”

If you look closely, you can see: The number comes from a 35-year-old study. In a thought experiment at the time, suicides involving pesticides in Sri Lanka were extrapolated worldwide.

«Pesticides are a technology that support civilization»
Plant protection Knowledge

«Pesticides are a technology that support civilization»

Synthetic pesticides enabled the transition at the end of the 19th century from an era of periodic famines to an age of food security. For this reason, it is clear to the University of Göttingen’s Professor Andreas von Tiedemann that pesticides are a cornerstone of modern society.

Facts about drinking water and limit values
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Facts about drinking water and limit values

'Pure' water is either a tasteless distillate or a selling point. As natural products, neither tap water nor branded water is 'pure'. However, both can be drunk without hesitation.

Difference between risk and danger
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Difference between risk and danger

Danger and risk are often confused in the discussion surrounding pesticides. Sometimes the two terms are even used synonymously. That is as incorrect as it is negligent, because dangerous substances do not always present a high risk. By the same token, substances that are not considered to be dangerous can indeed pose a risk. Danger and risk are therefore not identical.

Synthetic has many benefits
Plant protection Knowledge

Synthetic has many benefits

Synthetic pesticides are often automatically viewed as problematic compared with natural pesticides. But this is a misconception. It is not possible to make any general statements about toxicity based on the production method alone.

Scientists urge common sense
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Scientists urge common sense

The second Swiss-Food Talk was attended by three internationally recognised experts from the fields of toxicology, water protection and food safety. They discussed the handling of limit values and the partly wrong interpretation in the public discourse. The scientists pleaded for more objectivity.

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Late blight: utilising resistance from wild potatoes
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Late blight: utilising resistance from wild potatoes

Late blight is one of the most dangerous potato diseases. Biotech methods can be used to equip potatoes with a resistance gene against late blight.

Plant breeding for resource-efficient farming
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Plant breeding for resource-efficient farming

Climate change, pests, population growth and ever-scarcer resources pose major challenges for farmers around the world. And being able to produce sufficient food in a manner that is as environmentally-friendly as possible requires increasingly robust plant varieties.

Hightech im Pflanzenschutz: «GPS statt Feuerwehrschaum»
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Hightech im Pflanzenschutz: «GPS statt Feuerwehrschaum»

Technologischer Fortschritt und Digitalisierung machen auch vor der Landwirtschaft nicht halt. Im Gegenteil.

Key answers at a glance
Plant protection Knowledge

Key answers at a glance

Plant protection products and biocides have proven their worth. They not only enable regional food production, but also limit food loss and food waste. Here are ten questions and answers on pesticides and plant protection products.

Food waste is harmful to the environment and to the wallet
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Food waste is harmful to the environment and to the wallet

In the Swiss food chain – from producers to consumers – considerable amounts of food are lost each year, which would still be perfectly suitable for consumption.

Combating food waste with packaging and preservatives
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Combating food waste with packaging and preservatives

The longer food lasts, the less likely it is to be thrown away. Chemical procedures and packaging materials are vital for preserving food. In its online magazine, BASF examines how food preservation techniques have developed and explains the importance of chemicals are in combating food waste. Preservatives are an effective way of combating food waste.

Pestizide, Biozide, Pflanzenschutzmittel
Plant protection Knowledge

Pestizide, Biozide, Pflanzenschutzmittel

Pestizid ist jede Substanz oder Stoffmischung aus chemischen oder biologischen Inhaltsstoffen, die dazu bestimmt ist, Schädlinge abzuwehren, zu bekämpfen oder das Pflanzenwachstum zu regulieren.

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"Swiss water is in a bad way."
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"Swiss water is in a bad way."

That's not actually true. Our surface waters, groundwater and drinking water are in very good condition. Our water quality tops international rankings. There cannot be any mention of poor Swiss water quality.

"Pesticides are to blame for insect deaths."
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"Pesticides are to blame for insect deaths."

Pesticides are repeatedly blamed for the decline in insects. That is too simplistic an assessment. The reality is much more complex. For example, overdevelopment has a much stronger influence on insect populations. This is demonstrated by a meta-study on global insect decline.

"Pesticides damage the climate."
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"Pesticides damage the climate."

Pesticides are bad for the climate? No, the exact opposite is true. Plant protection products help to produce more food on less usable space and thus protect the soil.

"Natural is healthy, chemicals are toxic."
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"Natural is healthy, chemicals are toxic."

Everything that occurs in nature is healthy and synthetically produced substances, i.e. "chemical" substances, are toxic. This myth is fundamentally wrong: There are many highly toxic substances in nature, and at the same time there are many synthetic substances that are absolutely harmless.

"Organic products do not require pesticides."
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"Organic products do not require pesticides."

The fact that organic farmers work without pesticides is a commonly-held view, but it is clearly wrong. Around 60 percent of the Swiss top ten crop protection products are also approved for organic farming. The organic farming industry, in its current form, could not exist without modern synthetic plant protection products.