Pesticides (plant protection products, PPP) are designed to defend plants against attacks of insects, fungi or other harmful organisms. They contain active ingredients with considerable biological activities which usually extend somewhat beyond the purpose they are intended for. Their registration process therefore takes into consideration both efficacy and side effects and evaluates them in a detailed benefit/risk approach. In this article, we describe how pesticides are registered in Switzerland and emphasizes the active role played by the plant protection chemistry departmental group in this procedure. The environmental and consumer safety of the pesticides are evaluated based on the defined scenarios in which the PPP will be used and taking into account the physicochemical and biological properties of the active ingredients. The safety of PPP (for the crop, the applicator and the environment) is strongly dependent on the product quality. Therefore, product quality is regularly monitored by detailed chemical analyses. Several case histories illustrate the complex and interdisciplinary work of this part of the pesticides registration authority in Switzerland.
Herbicide-resistant weeds are a growing problem throughout the world. Monitoring herbicide resistance in Switzerland allows us to understand the mechanisms behind it and to better manage the use of herbicides.
Agroscope compared crop protection strategies in apple production. Reducing the use of plant-protection products lowered the local ecotoxological risks, but resulted in trade-offs between environmental and economic performance.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium proteins protect Bt maize from being fed on by specific insects. A new, systematic analysis of international field data confirms that non-target organisms in Bt maize are largely spared.