COLEAD at ABIM 2023: innovations in biocontrol and compliance with EU organic agriculture regulations

ABIM 2023: meetings and innovations in biological crop protection

We are pleased to share some highlights from COLEAD’s participation in the 18th Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting (ABIM) held in Basel from October 23 to 25, 2023. ABIM, a global event for the biocontrol industry, serves as a platform to showcase research and innovation in crop protection, stay up to date with the latest developments in biocontrol (including legislation), and foster connections with Plant Protection Product (PPP) companies to facilitate access to safer alternatives.

Field trials of 46 biocontrol alternatives

Central to COLEAD’s presence at ABIM was a poster presentation that describes our ongoing work in crop protection. The overall objective is to ensure that ACP fruit and vegetable growers have access to safe and affordable pest management solutions. Recent activities have included assessment of 46 biocontrol alternatives in screening trials, registration trials in collaboration with manufacturers, and integrated pest management research.

Supporting compliance with the new EU Organic Regulation

COLEAD’s commitment extends beyond research. We are actively engaged (among others) in helping partner-beneficiaries meet requirements brought in under the European Union (EU) Organic Regulation (EU) 2018/84. For imported products this regulation will only take effect from 1st January 2025.

Some of the new requirements, including rules on the use of plant protection products, have significant implications for third countries. This includes the use of biocontrol products such as microorganisms, viruses, and plant extracts. Unless these substances (and their strains) are authorized in the EU, an application must be made to authorize their use in organic production in third countries. (under Annex VI of Regulation (EU) 2021/1165). There must be justified reasons to support such a submission, for example to manage a pest does not present in the EU.

This requirement will affect tropical and sub-tropical countries where crops, pests, and agroecological conditions are very different to those in the EU.

COLEAD has been highlighting this issue since 2016 through bilateral meetings with the European Commission, and by responding to public consultations. In 2023, in collaboration with ECOCERT, COLEAD supported the development and submission of the first Annex VI dossier. This concerns the use of ethylene for pineapple floral induction, essential for commercial organic pineapple production for the EU market. The EGTOP committee has approved the dossier, and the process is now underway to incorporate this into the regulation (timeline not specified).

There is a need for a collective effort. ABIM was the occasion to meet with other stakeholders with whom COLEAD is now working in a collaborative effort to secure further Annex VI listings. International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA) members have already initiated the submission of requests for several other products and substances. The strategy is to ensure that control options are available for priority pest and diseases (e.g. quarantine pests, pests/diseases of significant economic importance) in the first instance, thereby minimising as far as possible the disruption of trade in organic products to the EU.

The process of compiling and submitting dossiers for each product/substance is time-consuming, and some may not receive authorization for use before January 2025. If you are concerned about losing any biocontrol solutions that you are currently using (e. microorganisms, viruses, or plant extracts), please contact us at:

The participation of COLEAD’s Research and Innovation Brokerage department at ABIM is supported by the Fit For Market Plus program, implemented by COLEAD as part of development cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OEACP). This publication receives financial support from the European Union and the OACPS. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of COLEAD and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union or the OACPS.