A first concept of integrated plant protection was established as early as in the 1950ies. The reasoning was that firstly the increasing usage of chemical plant protection products. Secondly it was recognized that plant protection cannot achieve sustainable success without considering biological contexts and ecological interactions. Beginning with an initial strategic approach, through research and development and based on political support a comprehensive concept has established itself worldwide.
The FAO Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Plant Protection Products adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1985 cites integrated plant protection as a key component of a sustainable plant protection.
The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio des Janeiro and agenda 21 recognized integrated plant protection as the optimum solution for the future and as a worldwide model for plant protection in a sustainable agriculture.
The German Plant Protection Act in the version as of May 14, 1998, defines integrated plant protection as "a combination of procedures that, as a matter of priority, are taking account of biological, biotechnical measures, of plant breeding as well as cultural and cultivation measures, and that limit the use of chemical plant protection products to the necessary minimum". The necessary minimum describes the "intensity of the use of plant protection products that is necessary to secure the cultivation of crop, in particular with a view to economic efficiency". The provision assumes that all other practical possibilities to repel and combat harmful organisms are exhausted while matters of consumer, environment as well as user protection have sufficiently been considered (National Action Plan on Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products 2008, p. 9).
On December 16, 2011, the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, passed the new German Plant Protection Act that the German parliament, the Bundestag, had adopted on November 10, 2011. The reason for the amendment of the Plant Protection Act was the alignment of the national legislation to the new EU-legislation. These aim at harmonising the plant protection legislation within the European Community. A legal basis for the amendment of the law is the EU-directive 2009/128/EC regarding a framework for community action on the sustainable use of pesticides (sustainable use directive, "SUD").
Under Section 3 of the amended German Plant Protection Act, plant protection is allowed to be applied only in accordance to the code of good plant protection practice. This includes the compliance with the general principles of integrated plant protection under Annex III of the SUD. These eight principles on integrated plant protection listed in Annex III of the SUD become obligatory for all users of plant protection products within the EU by beginning of 2014 at the latest.
Furthermore and according to Section 14 of the SUD, crop-specific or sector-specific guidelines on integrated plant protection shall be established. These are much more specific than the general principles. They support the farmers’ and consultants’ decision-making process with concrete offers for measures. Therefore, guidelines are an important instrument for a lasting application of integrated plant protection. Section 14 of the German Plant Protection Act calls upon the growers associations or state institutions to develop such guidelines and to provide support so that farmers apply such guidelines voluntarily. Each Member State of the European Community decides itself whether crop-specific or sector-specific guidelines on integrated plant protection are relevant and suitable to be integrated into its National Action Plan.
Moreover, the report on the National Research Strategy Bio-Economy 2030 emphasizes that plant protection is an indispensable element not only with regard to agricultural production but to protect stored products as well. Thus unavoidable related risks for people, animals and the natural balance are being reduced. This includes, besides biological and cultural techniques measures, the technological improvement of plant protection equipment.*
* including modern procedures for saving plant protection products (e.g. precision farming, sensor-based controls, robotics) as well as to avoid the introduction and spread of harmful organisms). (National Research Strategy Bio-Economy 2030, “Our road to a bio-based economy, 2010, p.23)