Produits Phytopharmaceutiques

Facilitating the marketing of biocontrol plant protection products

Biocontrol is one of the solutions that could facilitate the substitution of synthetic plant protection products by non-chemical alternatives, with a view to achieving the goals of the French Ecophyto 2018 plan to reduce pesticide use. Although they are of natural origin, these plant protection products still have to be scientifically assessed, in terms of their effectiveness and their safety to health and the environment, before they can be placed on the market. ANSES has set up a specific system to give priority to applications concerning biocontrol products, including shorter timeframes for their examination and reduced fees, with the aim of promoting their development.

What are biocontrol products?

Biocontrol products are agents and products that use natural mechanisms to protect plants as part of integrated control. In particular, they include:

  • macro-organisms (for example: insects, mites or nematodes);
  • plant protection products containing micro-organisms (fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc.), chemical mediators such as pheromones and kairomones, and natural substances of animal, mineral or plant origin (essential oils, for example).

With the exception of macro-organisms (which are not subject to marketing authorisation), all biocontrol products are therefore regarded as plant protection products and have to undergo a scientific assessment of their effects on humans (operators, workers, residues, etc.), and on different environmental media and the non-target organisms found in these media (water, air, soil, fauna and flora). Their effectiveness and selectivity are also assessed. Indeed, while the principles of biological control promote the use of processes and interactions that already exist in nature, these products may also pose risks, in particular to humans or the environment. To ensure that its assessments are specific and tailored to the products, ANSES relies on its Expert Committee on "Micro-organisms and macro-organisms beneficial to plants".

Facilitating the marketing of biocontrol products

ANSES has adapted its procedures to facilitate the examination of marketing authorisation applications for biocontrol products submitted by companies.

The dossiers for these products are assessed on a priority basis, and the administrative fees are lower compared to the application dossiers for other types of plant protection products.

In addition, the timeframes for examining these dossiers have been reduced to six months, making them shorter than those for other plant protection products.

With regard to regulations, the Agency participated in defining the guideline adopted by the European Commission in 2013 for exempting certain products from the Maximum Residue Limits when they present a low risk for consumers, thus facilitating their marketing authorisation. As a rapporteur Member State, it also takes part in the European assessment of active micro-organism-based substances, and in methodological working groups on assessment of the risks and effectiveness of these products.

The biocontrol list

Authorised plant protection products used in the field of biocontrol appear on a list defined by a note from the Ministry of Agriculture, which is regularly updated through publication in the Ministry's official bulletin.