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Modelling policy restrictions on pesticides use with CAPRI (pesticides 2)


European Commission DG Environment


12/2021 - 12/2022


  • Joint Research Center (JRC)
  • Stichting Wageningen Research
  • EuroCARE GmbH
  • Johann Heinrich von Thuenen-Institut

Research context

The reduction of pesticide use in agriculture is among the core goals of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies and is also well embedded in the current reform of the CAP. In general, social and policy initiatives exist in many countries for reducing pesticide use in agriculture. Such initiatives intend to fight against the negative consequences of large-scale pesticide use on human health, the environment and society by banning certain substances in pesticides with high health risk (e.g. carcinogens), or banning certain types of pesticides (e.g. in organic farming practices farmers are only allowed to apply certain plant protection products) or by promoting pesticide-free agricultural practices. Such restrictive policies are mostly motivated by the potential health and environmental benefits, including (i) reduced health risks linked to certain active substances from reduced pesticide residues in food products, and (ii) limiting negative impacts of agricultural activities on biodiversity. However, pesticide-restriction policies might also have adverse impacts. Restrictions on herbicides use, for example, can lead to more ploughing for weed control and so to increased greenhouse gas emissions from cropping activities. Pesticide restrictions might also lead to a decreased supply of pesticide-dependent crops (e.g. fruits), raising at the same time the relative prices of such crop products and altering the consumption patterns towards less healthy diets. Therefore, the analysis of the environmental, economic and health benefits and risks of such restrictions is a complex task that requires careful considerations of the behavioural responses of farmers and consumers, and also the indirect/secondary effects from the agricultural markets (e.g. price feedback from markets or emission leakage to third countries).

Aim and objective

The overall objective of the contract is to improve the capabilities of CAPRI for the impact assessment of policies aiming at the reduction of pesticides use in the EU farming sector. The specific objectives are the following:

  • Further disaggregation of the five aggregated pesticide groups into main substances or substance groups.
  • Assessment and consideration of the substitutability of main pesticide substances or substance groups (which becomes more relevant with finer disaggregation).
  • Implementation of alternative plant protection options (e.g. biological pest control, mechanical weeding, crop rotations) as potential substitutes for the reduction of pesticides use.
  • Assessment and improvement of damage avoidance for “mediterranean” crops (olives, wine, fruits) based on expertise in the relevant member states.
  • Differentiating prices by main pesticide substances or substance groups (and ideally by country) to enhance the empirical content of pesticide modelling in the profit maximisation framework of CAPRI.
  • Implementation of additional reporting tools (like a breakdown of pesticides use by crops according to the endogenous or exogenous treatment) to improve the possibility of future scenario analysis.
  • Link pesticide use to existing or new CAPRI biodiversity indicators, like for example a risk indicator for pollinators or other surrogated taxa (or species).
  • Link achievements of this project to the developments of the parallel project on the implementation of organic farming in CAPRI.
  • Full testing of the new developments in more realistic scenarios to demonstrate numerical stability, completeness in reporting and plausible reactions.

Main tasks

  • Taks 1: Improvements and extensions of the database
  • Taks 2: Improvements in the economic modelling
  • Taks 3: Linking pesticides to biodiversity assessments
  • Taks 4: Link of Non-EU fertilizer input use to Non-EU emission factors
  • Taks 5: Test scenarios and merge to CAPRI trunk