Despite Europe’s strict GMO rules, biotechnology can still help farmers feed the continent

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The EU has recently laid out a series of targets to dramatically reduce the amounts of chemicals used in European farms by 2030. These include reducing by 50% the use of chemical and hazardous pesticides as well as reducing fertilizer use by 20%.

Achieving these goals without experiencing a massive drop in yields will be no mean feat. Turning to innovative agricultural biotechnology could solve this conundrum, and make the transition away from agrochemicals far less painful.

Historically, agri-biotech has had a difficult relationship with EU regulators. The European Commission’s long-standing resistance towards the adoption of genetically modified crops has frustrated many researchers and companies across the continent who view such strains as critical tools in the development of a more productive, more robust, and more sustainable agricultural system.

Related article:  EU 'farm-to-fork' proposal opens door to gene editing, drawing fire from anti-GMO groups

However, agricultural biotechnology extends much further than just GM crops: scientists have applied biotechnology to create a range of biological solutions for improving the way we grow crops, without contravening existing regulations around genetic modification of the crops themselves.

BioPhero, a spinout from the Technical University of Denmark, is pioneering the use of insect pheromones as a sustainable alternative to chemical insecticides. The company specifically targets moths, which are a significant pest in a variety of crops.

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