Harmonization, Industry Growth Guide EBIC in the New Year

Giuseppe Natale, president of the European Biostimulant Industry Council
Giuseppe Natale, President of the European Biostimulant Industry Council

The European biostimulants industry has been working since 2011 to obtain a single European market for its products. Draft legislation has been under discussion by the European Parliament since March 2016. While we hope to see some aspects of the legislation improved before it is finalized, an aggregated European market could be a reality within a few years, despite some political surprises this year.
The British vote to leave the European Union (EU) shook our assumptions about the future. While Brexit has not had a direct effect on the timetable for our draft legislation, it has changed the conditions under which we are negotiating.
Despite all this internal upheaval, the European Biostimulant Industry Council’s (EBIC) members remain focused on securing harmonization in our home market as a base for global growth.
Despite EBIC’s regional focus, we have always been mindful of the need to have a global perspective. All EBIC’s members, even those with fewer than 10 employees, sell their products in numerous countries around the world. Similar conditions for doing business around the world make it easier for the industry to operate across borders and to cooperate with counterparts in other countries. In addition to trade, more and more biostimulants companies are building factories or buying subsidiaries in other markets.
The impetus for a global outlook has grown since specialized biostimulants companies have been joined by the multinational majors.
Some international convergence can be achieved by the industry itself through best practices and standardization of terminology, procedures, and analytical methods. Many of the issues related to reputation, credibility, and raising awareness among growers and consumers are similar everywhere. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the industry in one part of the world could take inspiration from what has already been done elsewhere. That does not mean applying a cookie-cutter approach. Adaptation to local specificities will always be important, but that can happen within a similar framework.
Another part of the convergence requires the cooperation of regulators. While each market will always have its own political specificities, the early stage of biostimulants regulation means that it should be possible to achieve significant harmonization.
Beyond making it easier for industry to operate, a global mindset is important because the major challenges facing agriculture today are themselves global. A growing population with a growing appetite, climate change, urbanization of the population, and increasing water stress are among the issues that cannot be solved with siloed thinking. While farmers are facing more challenging working conditions, consumers are becoming more demanding about how their food and other agricultural products are grown. Biostimulants have an essential role in helping to improve the efficiency of agriculture and reducing unwanted impacts at the same time they improve crop quality and yields.
This new stage in the globalization of the biostimulants industry is symbolized by the fact that the Third World Biostimulants Congress will be held in Miami on November 27th-30th after the first two editions were held in Europe. The rate at which the Congress has grown reflects an extraordinary explosion in the scientific interest in biostimulants and their effects on crops. •

Natale is President of the European Biostimulant Industry Council and CEO of Valagro SpA.

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