The Plant Protection Products (PPP) Sector in the European Union: A Special View on Herbicides

  • Alessandro Bonanno
  • Valentina C. Materia
  • Thomas Venus
  • Justus Wesseler
Original Article


The policy debates on plant protection products (PPPs) in the European Union (EU) are dominated by the environmental implications of crop protection (in particular, the use of herbicides) and the concentration of the herbicide industry. This article aims at presenting an overview of the patterns herbicide usage over time between and within European countries, and an overview of the industry structure. Potential determinants driving some of these differences are discussed, such as the recent PPP policies adopted by the EU. Results show that herbicides are the most important input used in crop protection, but regional differences are substantial. The concentration of the industry is high, but below levels that would raise concerns by EU regulators. The sector is also highly regulated, which contributes to a high concentration and a consequent decline in innovations. This finding raises the possibility of substituting bans of active ingredients in herbicides with alternative solutions.


agriculture plant protection products herbicides European Union market concentration regulation 

Les débats de politique sur les produits de protection des plantes (PPP) dans l’Union Européenne sont dominés par les implications environnementales des protections offerts aux cultives (en particulier, l’utilisation des herbicides), et par la concentration de l’industrie des herbicides. Cet étude vise à présenter une vue d’ensemble de l’utilisation des herbicides dans les pays européens, et un aperçu de la structure du secteur des herbicides. Les déterminants de ces différences sont examinés (par exemple, les politiques récentes de PPP adoptes par l’Union Européenne). Les résultats indiquent que les herbicides sont l’apport le plus important en matière de phytoprotection, mais qu’il y a des différences régionales considérables. La concentration de l’industrie des herbicides est haute, mais en dessus du niveau qui feraient surgir des préoccupations chez les régulateurs UE. Le secteur est aussi très règlementé, ce qui implique une haute concentration et une conséquente diminution des innovations; on se pose donc la question si, à la place d’interdire des ingrédients actifs dans les herbicides, on pourrait trouver des solutions alternatives.



We are indebted to the Editor and two anonymous referees for their valuable advice and comments. This article is partly based on the European Parliament study “Overview of the Agricultural Inputs Sector in the EU” by Wesseler et al (2015).


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Bonanno
    • 1
  • Valentina C. Materia
    • 2
  • Thomas Venus
    • 2
  • Justus Wesseler
    • 2
  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Social Science DepartmentWageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands

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