Industry braced for latest PSD report on EU pesticide proposals

Conflict over EU proposals to ban pesticides continues, with grower leaders bracing themselves for a tough-talking report from the UK's top watchdog.

The report from the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD), which was due out this week, warns that up to a quarter of crop-protection products could face the axe.

Fresh Produce Consortium chief executive Nigel Jenney insisted that MEPs must face the music for damaging the industry.

"We must hold MEPs accountable to hard-pressed consumers in this difficult economic climate for the repercussions of their decisions in the final proposals," he said.

He added that the updated assessment by the PSD, which forecast up to 23 per cent of crop-protection products could be banned, could force prices for fruit and vegetables to "rocket".

"We will continue to call for a full European impact assessment to be included in the regula- tions before they are enforced."

Jenney spoke on the eve of the publication of the PSD's report on the second reading in the EU in November. Votes concerned cut-off criteria, which would affect availability of active substances.

Crop Protection Association chief executive Dominic Dyer said: "We continue to call on our Government to seek agreement with other member states to include a safeguard clause in the final regulation."

This would ensure the setting up of a "council work group" to carry out a full EU-wide impact assessment on the proposals before they came into law, he said.

Dyer, who has received letters of support from prime minister Gordon Brown and environment secretary Hilary Benn, said he was seeking an urgent food-chain meeting with MPs.

Processed Vegetable Growers' Association commercial manager Tim Mudge said: "Everyone is waiting with bated breath on the outcome, and that is damaging.

"We are trying to create a buoyant and positive industry in the UK and when we hear about the potential dramatic impact, it causes a great deal of concern."

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