The European Commission has announced increased availability of biological pesticides in member states through new rules for micro-organisms used in plant protection products.

The decision is part of the EU’s transition to sustainable food systems and aim of reducing the use of chemical pesticides under the Farm to Fork Strategy.

New rules on the use of micro-organisms as active substances in plant protection products will provide EU farmers with additional options to substitute chemical products.

Member states have approved these new rules and authorisation of products will significantly fasten once they apply.

Subject to scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council, the new rules will be adopted and applicable in the fourth quarter of this year.

Announcing the decision of the new rules, commissioner in charge of health and food safety, Stella Kyriakides, said:

“The EU has among the highest environmental requirements and a leading role when it comes to sustainability of its food system – today’s announcement is further tangible and concrete proof of this.”

Under the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU committed to cut 50% of chemical pesticides by 2030.

“It is crucial that we provide alternatives that respect our planet and our health,” according to Kyriakides.


Safety needs to be demonstrated before micro-organisms can be approved as active substances in plant protection products. It must be proven that they do not cause disease in humans or animals, the commission stated.

Biological and ecological properties of each micro-organism will be put at the centre of scientific risk assessment, while biological plant protection products reflect the latest scientific developments, the commission added.

Because of their biological properties, micro-organisms have been used world-wide and in the EU for decades to control pests and plant diseases. There are currently over 60 micro-organisms approved in the EU, according to the commission.

Biological products

Biological plant protection products containing micro-organisms may be less efficient than chemicals, as living organisms require optimal conditions to successfully control pests, the commission stated.

However, they are safer than chemicals, and biological alternatives play a key role in organic farming as micro-organisms can be used as biological control agents, according to the European Commission.

The commission added that micro-organisms are also crucial for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which farmers have to use in the EU.

“Farmers must give preference to preventive actions, monitoring and biological plant protection alternatives, before using chemical plant protection products.

“The new regulations will fasten access to the market for micro-organisms used in biological plant protection products and thus make new sustainable alternatives available to EU organic farmers for controlling plant pests,” the European Commission concluded.