British grower warns MEPs over poor gauging of risk management on crop chemicals

One of the UK's leading asparagus growers has warned MEPs against banning of important pesticides on the basis of insufficient evidence.

Image: Steve Cadman (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Image: Steve Cadman (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cobrey Farms owner John Chinn, who is also Chairman of the UK's Centre for Applied Crop Science, was invited by West Midlands Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre to address the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee hearing on sustainable plant protection last week.

Chinn said the EU was not performing well in its gauging of risk management when approving or banning plant protection products such as insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.

"A failure to distinguish between hazard and risk is an essential part of the confusion about perceived threats from or to our environment," he said. "In general hazard identification is easy and often speculative; risk evaluation is generally complex and demanding."

He added: "There is an extraordinary disregard for well documented risks while others of marginal significance distort public and private spending decisions. These factors, coupled with a perverse preference for natural toxicity over synthetic safety, lead to an indifferent performance in risk management in the community."

After the hearing, McIntyre said: "It was really good to hear from someone with a wealth of first-hand experience, a detailed grasp of the subject and a great deal of common sense - a commodity often in short supply here.

"I was pleased that his message chimed so closely with my own recent report on Technological Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture which emphasised the need for innovation, new techniques and scientific advances to be adopted across all sectors of agriculture."

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