“We firmly believe that pesticides are an integral part of the agricultural value chain because with-out their appropriate use, the FAO predicts that agricultural production would decrease by up to 40% worldwide.”
As an organization, what does PROCCYT stand for?
PROCCYT represents 70% of the crop protection industry in Mexico, and its members include developers, producers, and distributors of agrochemical and biological products, as well as certain agricultural companies that are substantial users of these offerings. The organization focuses on promoting the control, use, and distribution of chemicals according to rigorous international standards. We firmly believe that pesticides are an integral part of the agricultural value chain because without their appropriate use, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) predicts that agricultural production would decrease by up to 40% worldwide.
What are your opinions on the government’s announcement to ban glyphosate?
Glyphosate is an agricultural tool that has been used in Mexico for slightly over 40 years. Like other crop protection products, it was subjected to many years of investigation and rigorous analysis from authorities in human health, environment health, and agricultural health. Even agencies with very strict requirements, like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), have tested glyphosate and not found any harmful side effects. The only country that prohibits its use is Vietnam, which does so on religious grounds. Misinformation is being spread by activists who started a campaign against this molecule and other pesticides. These activists are acting in favor of agro ecology, meaning the use of only organic and biological products, which are not bad in themselves but fail to present the only solution for the agricultural industry.
Who is impacted when certain agrochemicals are banned or made unavailable?
With populations growing on a national and international level, we have to think about all methods of production and analyze which method is adequate for a particular region, crop, and intended results. The ultimate goal is to have sufficient food for everybody. If a producer of one hectare of crops decides to only use organic products, there will be no real impact because the few tons of crops they produce will not impact production on a national level. But if someone with 5,000 hectares of rice cannot use certain agrochemicals, 40-50% of their crop will be eliminated, which impacts the national industry as various consumers of that product would have to compete.
Crops are needed to create cattle feed, starches, syrups, and other products in addition to general human consumption. As such, the threat to agrochemicals is a challenge confronting not only the crop protection industry but also to the entire food market, from those who provide the seeds, to grain importers, to transporters and even retailers. The responsible use of legal agrochemicals should be promoted, not vilified.
What would you say to somebody who insists organic crops are healthier than crops grown with agrochemicals?
In Mexico, no more than 20% of the population would select organic products over traditional products. If you ask someone who earns a minimum wage salary whether they will purchase the organic, gluten-free loaf of bread for 80 pesos or the fibrous bread for 30 pesos, the response is simple. Organic products and traditional products can have the same nutritional profiles with certain indistinguishable differences, yet there will be an extraordinary contrast in price. For many people, these products are not accessible. Additionally, regulatory standards for organic products are not as extensive as those for agrochemicals. Ultimately, what we eat as consumers has to do with taste, price, and accessibility. Organic products are not bad, but they cannot support the entire agricultural market.
What does PROCCYT see as its priorities for the next three years?
PROCCYT’s objectives for the next three years are based on the challenges it sees in the industry. First, there are regulatory challenges as the Mexican authority intends to modify the industry in a way that restricts the registration of strategic agricultural products. Next, there is the challenge of improving communications with consumers of agrochemical products. Consumers need to be educated on how many years and millions of dollars are invested into the science that makes sure these products are safe. Lastly, we see a challenge in integrating our value chains so that we can better defend agricultural processes and the right to food protection. The Mexican administration should not be able to make decisions based on ideology or certain activist groups but rather based on scientific evidence.