Iconic British foods could be severely curtailed in the face of loss of plant protection products, Andersons study warns

Domestic production of some 'iconic' British foods such as frozen peas, apples and fresh carrots could be severely curtailed as the result of the loss or restricted use of plant protection products (PPP), a study by Andersons for the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the Crop Protection Association and the National Farmers Union has concluded.

Three main policies threaten the availability of PPP said the researchers; the approval process at EU level; the implementation of the Water Framework Directive at national level; and restrictions on neonicotinoid seed treatments.

The report, The effect of the loss of plant protection products on the UK agriculture and horticulture identifies that 87 of the 250 active substances currently approved in the UK could be threatened by the cumulative effects of these policies.

Andersons said 40 active substances are highly likely to be lost or restricted including 10 insecticides, 12 fungicides, 16 herbicides and 2 molluscicides. The active substances deemed likely to be withdrawn or restricted include important products for UK crop production.

Loss of PPP will result in lower overall yields with predicted yield decreases ranging from 4 to 50% in the crops studied – and overall food output from UK farming and horticulture would decline.

The effect would be to make the UK more reliant on food imports and so reduce self-sufficiency.

Other findings include:

  • The structural change in UK crop production would alter farming costs as seed, fertiliser and PPP uses all shift and greater reliance is placed on mechanical and hand weeding.
  • Declining profitability will cause further structural change. In general, less efficient producers will exit the sector and farming operations will, on average, become fewer and larger.

Scientists at the Food, Environment Research Agency welcomed the report saying crop protection is essential for achieving a sustainable intensification of agriculture and to meet demands of a growing population for food.


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