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09 December 2020 | 10:45 CST | 5:45 PM CET | Global Debate

POLITICO Debate: Pesticides and a Resilient Food System

The debate in Europe over pesticides is only getting more contentious. As part of its flagship Green Deal initiative launched in December of last year, the European Commission is currently reviewing its Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive. This effort only leads to a more fundamental discussion about the sustainable use of pesticides, including questions such as:

  • Can Europe help feed a growing population and keep farmers in business, while also reducing the impact of agriculture on climate and biodiversity?
  • Can farmers produce enough food without pesticides? 
  • Do pesticides need to be part of the equation—part of smart pest management that uses new, innovative technology?


On the one year anniversary of the Green Deal, POLITICO hosts an Oxford-style debate, presented by Bayer, on the topic of resiliency, as two teams go head-to-head on the (virtual) debate floor. The motion for the debate:


Pesticides are not necessary for a resilient EU food system 





  • 5:45 PM CET: POLITICO moderator, Eddy Wax, introduces debate and speakers
  • 5:50 PM CET: Opening remarks from Bruno Tremblay, Regional Head, Bayer Crop Science
  • 5:55 PM CET: Joint interview with Helen Browning, organic farmer and Olivier Gerard, farmer
  • 6:10 PM CET: Call for a vote, opening arguments begin
  • Proposing Team: Martin Hojsik, MEP (Renew Europe Group & Slovakia) and Faustine Bas-Defossez, head of agriculture and land management programme, Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) 
  • Opposing Team: Herbert Dorfmann, MEP (EPP & Italy) and Lin Field, Head of the Department of Biointeractions and Crop Protection, Rothamsted Research
  • 6:30 PM CET: Moderator questions and audience Q&A
  • 7:00 PM CET: Closing arguments
  • 7:10 PM CET: Call for a post-debate vote, comparison with pre-debate vote
  • 7:15 PM CET: Moderator concludes and closes the event





    Eddie Wax

    Eddy Wax is a food and agriculture reporter for POLITICO in Brussels. He has a degree in Modern Languages from Cambridge University, where he co-founded and edited The Porter’s Log, a satirical website. Before he was a trainee at POLITICO, he interned at the BBC in Brussels and spent an Erasmus semester studying in Paris.


    Bruno Tremblay

    Bruno Tremblay serves as a member of the Commercial Operations Leadership Team as Regional Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for the Crop Science division of Bayer. He leads the business in delivering value for EMEA-based customers. Bruno has 20 years of experience leading commercial life science operations on multiple continents. With a broad people-leadership experience with P&L responsibility, he has an extensive knowledge of agricultural markets with particular focus on Europe, Africa & the Middle East. Bruno graduated with a Business Administration (International Business) degree from ESSEC Business School and earned his master’s degree (MBA) from London School of Economics and Stern School of Business (NYU).


    Olivier Gerard

    Olivier Gerard is a farmer since 1999. He is the third generation on his farm. He cultivates 240 hectares in the north-east of France: his crops are grains, oilseeds, sugar beets and alfalfa.


    Helen Browning

    Helen Browning has a very mixed organic farm Wiltshire, with dairy, beef, pigs, cereals and is now also experimenting with agro-forestry. Her recent book ‘PIG; tales from an organic farm’, written with her partner Tim Finney, tells more about the trials and tribulations of their farming and food life. She has been chief executive of the Soil Association since 2011, after a long involvement with the charity in a variety of exec and non-exec roles. She is a member of the Food Ethics Council, trustee of the RSPB, and a commissioner for the Food Farming and Countryside Commission. She sits on the BBC’s Rural Affairs Advisory Committee and the National Food Strategy Advisory Panel. Before rejoining the Soil Association, Browning was director of external affairs for the National Trust. She has had a number of roles in agri-politics over the years, including the Government’s Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food (‘the Curry Commission’) and chaired the England Animal Health and Welfare Implementation Group. She was awarded an OBE in 1998 for her services to organic farming.


    Martin Hojsik

    Martin Hojsík is a Slovak member of the European Parliament for Progresívne Slovensko part of the Renew Europe group. He is a Member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and vice chair of Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) as well as substitute in Committee on Budgets (BUDG) and Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). In the European Parliament, his work focuses among others on chemical policies, including pesticides, pollinators protection, climate and biodiversity financing. Hojsík has a longstanding experience in matters of environmental protection and climate change. Over the past 25 year, he worked in a number of international organizations. He led national and international campaigns against toxic substances and waste in Greenpeace. He was a member of the board of FOUR PAWS International where he led the programme on animal protection. He remains the main environmental expert in the Progressive Slovakia.


    Lin Field

    Lin Field is head of the Department Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection at Rothamsted Research. She is an insect molecular biologist and her personal research interests are focussed on understanding insecticide mode of action and resistance at the biochemical/molecular level. Her research group uses the latest genomic techniques to understand resistance and insecticide selectivity and seeks to apply this to better use of pesticides in the field through links with partners in the agronomy, farming and agro-chemical sectors. As head of department at Rothamsted Research she has also developed a wide knowledge of alternative pest control strategies, especially the use of chemical ecology approaches and including the use of GM technologies. The aim of her department is to deliver effective and sustainable crop protection strategies which minimise the effects on non-targets and the environment. She has been, and continues to be, an active participant in the debate on whether pesticides are needed and how they may affect non-targets.


    Herbert Dorfmann

    Herbert Dorfmann is an Italian MEP for the Südtiroler Volkspartei, part of the European People’s Party. Dorfmann was re-elected to the European Parliament in 2019, having firstly been elected in 2009. He is a member of the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI) and a rapporteur on the Farm to Fork Strategy. Dorfmann is also a substitute member in the committee on budgets (BUDG), committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON) and committee on regional development (REGI). Dorfmann’s political career started when he became the mayor of his hometown, Feldthurns, in 2005. Prior to that he was director of the agriculture department at the Bolzano Chamber of Commerce and went on to direct the South Tyrolean Farmers’ Federation for nearly ten years. Dorfmann started his professional career as a professor at the Agricultural College in Ora. Dorfmann holds a degree in Agrarian Sciences from Piacenza.