EU plant protection changes could cut crop yields by half, CPA warns

Crop yields will fall to half their current levels, food prices will rise by 40 per cent and consumers will face extra food costs of £70bn per year, when new EU plant protection rules come into play, a new study has warned.

The report, commissioned by the Crop Protection Association (CPA), by economist Sean Rickard of Cranfield University says: "In real terms, the £70bn is approximately double the annual effect of the government's cuts."

Rickard wrote The Value of Crop Protection - An Assessment of the Full Benefits for the Food Chain & Living Standards ahead of when the revised EU law for regulating plant protection product authorisations (EC 1107/2009) being implemented next year. This is expected to seriously affect the production of many fruit and vegetable crops.

Rickard predicted that higher food prices would put pressure on people's disposable incomes and increase inflation.

The supply of raw materials from UK farms to the domestic food processing and manufacturing industries would fall and prices would rise. If that happened, the industry would be forced to import a much larger proportion of its inputs at inflated prices, hitting the UK's trade balance.

Rickard said the public would also suffer a reduction in the health benefits associated with a wide choice of affordable fresh fruit and vegetables. This would hit poorest people hardest because they spend a larger proportion of their income on food.

He added: "The absence of plant protection products would also have a wider effect on living standards. One would be some loss of the countryside for leisure and recreation as farmers sought to bring additional land areas."

CPA chief executive Dominic Dyer said: "This study sends a clear message that access to the most advanced farming technologies is essential, not only to maintain the quality, consistency and affordability of our food supply but also to keep UK agriculture competitive and to safeguard jobs, growth and wealth creation within the rest of the food chain."

He added: "But the study also highlights other important benefits of pesticides to our economy and quality of life, from the discovery of new scientific knowledge through to our enjoyment of sports and leisure activities, gardening and the countryside."

Rickard's report was discussed earlier this month at the third annual food security foreign affairs think-tank, Making Food Security Work, at Chatham House in London.

- Read the full report at www.

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