Science - June 16, 2005

Multinational pays for pesticide research

A big research project on the use of pesticides in vegetable growing in Vietnam was launched at the beginning of June in Ho Chi Minh City. Alterra and LEI will carry out the project together with Syngenta and a Vietnamese country. The project is exceptional, as it will be entirely financed by multinational Syngenta, to the tune of 216 thousand euros.

Syngenta is one of the biggest producers of pesticides and seed in the world. Project leader Rik van den Bosch, of Alterra, explains that the company wants to encourage safe use of pesticides in Vietnam. Syngenta believes that large amounts of illegal pesticides are being used, for example from China. These are more damaging to the environment than the company’s own products, at least if the latter are used properly.

Van den Bosch: ‘The strength of the project is that we shall address the problem from two sides. On the one hand we will deal with the technical cultivation aspects, and on the other we want to stimulate the market for safe vegetables. Because of the multidisciplinary character of the project, we will work together with LEI.’

LEI will be setting up a business and marketing strategy for developing a sustainable chain for the Vietnamese company AGPPS, which has set up a chain of shops selling safe vegetables. In this way, farmers are not only offered technical alternatives that are better for the environment and their own health, but also a market for their products where prices are higher.

Farmers will be directly involved in the research, Van den Bosch tells. ‘We will start by interviewing farmers so that we can analyse their pesticide use. We will present the results of the survey to the farmers so that they can learn directly from them. Then we will develop alternatives with Syngenta and set up demonstration experiments. We will also conduct an environmental analysis of all forms of pesticide use.’ / JT

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