Reflections on the European Biostimulants Interactive Summit 2019

February 27, 2019

Dr Oluwatobi Oni, Project Manager, Plant Protection, shares his reflections on the European Biostimulants Interactive Summit 2019, held in January in Madrid, Spain.

Growing demand for diversification of inputs in agriculture means that the global biostimulant market will continue to grow over the next years. The recent two-day European Biostimulant Interactive Summit provided a platform for industry stakeholders to discuss the current trends, challenges and future opportunities in the biostimulant market. 

Currently, there is no harmonized legislation in place to guide the placing of biostimulant products on the European market. Biostimulant products are registered according to national legislations, which creates a massive challenge for manufacturers to make good products available to growers across Europe as they would have to undertake registration procedures in each European market of interest.

New harmonized European fertilizer regulation

A major highlight of the summit was the discussion on the new harmonized European Fertilizer Regulation, Regulation (EC) No. 2016/0084 (COD), scheduled to take effect from 2022 according to current timelines. This legislation will also cater to the registration of biostimulant products across applicable EU member states.

The upcoming Regulation (EC) No. 2016/0084 (COD) will be linked to or is expected to result in a few amendments in other legislations e.g. Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009 (Plant Protection Products, PPP), Regulation (EC) No. 396/2005 (Maximum Residue Limits, MRL), and Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 (REACH).

Positive list

One area of the upcoming European Fertilizers Regulation that is still unclear and will see significant development over the next years is the “positive list” of approved microorganisms for use in formulation of microbial biostimulant products. The “positive list” currently contains Azotobacter spp., Rhizobium spp., Azospirillum spp. and Mycorrhizal fungi. There are biostimulant products legally sold under different product categories in some European countries which contain microorganisms that are not on the list. One can also assume that there are companies in the process of formulating biostimulant products with microorganisms not on the positive list. This suggests that the current biostimulant space in Europe may be more advanced than the upcoming legislation.

The criteria on which the “positive list” was collated is not clear. The safety criteria for addition of new microorganisms to the list is also yet to be established. However, establishment of these criteria is expected be one of the main priorities of the European Biostimulants Industry Council (EBIC) over the next years. In the meantime, manufacturers may need to adapt their formulation strategies to increase their chances of an earlier European single market entry.

Biostimulant regulations

To learn more about the regulation of biostimulant products in Europe, please get in touch.