Industry groups urge MEPs not to cut pesticide use

Pleas made to keep amenity pesticides

An urgent plea is being made to the horticulture industry to lobby MEPs against plans to severely restrict pesticide use. NFU Horticulture and Potatoes, the IoG, BIGGA and the Amenity Forum are calling on professionals from all sectors in horticulture to join forces and urge MEPs not to vote in favour of the plans. In question is the European Parliament’s Thematic Strategic for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides and amendments that have been made to it this summer by the Parliament’s Environment Committee. Final votes on first the amendments and then the strategy itself are being held in Brussels next month. The groups want to lobby MEPs now before they can vote in favour of proposals – which could threaten the sustainability of the industry. NFU horticulture adviser Dr Chris Hartfield said: “If your local MEP happens to be on the Environment Committee, or if you have access to one that is, then talk to them and ask how they are planning to vote.” Chairman of the Amenity Forum John Allbutt added: “We need to actively lobby our MEPs now to get across to them the powerful message of the likely negative impact of these laws. They must hear the argument loud and clear.” IoG head of professional services Ian Lacy said: “The industry needs to close ranks.” The Environment Committee has not only heralded the Thematic Strategy – drawn up by the European Commission to tighten up laws on pesticides - but called for even tougher rules. Proposals to “prohibit or restrict” pesticide use in public places like parks and sports grounds have been amended to completely prohibited their use in these areas. Proposals to ban aerial spraying when possible have also been amended to include further restrictions – such as the need for operators to notify the time of spraying and inform all residents and bystanders of their use. Amenity Forum and BALI representative Neil Huck said: “If such proposals become law, companies’ pest control costs could soar by up to 50 per cent as people seek to find alternative ways of controlling pests.” But the UK groups believe many of the proposals are impertinent to Britain - which they say has an exemplary code of conduct and track record on pesticide use. Hartfield said: “Pesticide usage in the UK is strictly controlled and subject to some of the most stringent safety measures within Europe. Many of the proposed measures, such as operator training, sprayer testing and residential buffer zones, have been already been adopted voluntarily by the UK industry.” MEPs on the Environment Committee John Bowis - London (t: 020 8949 2555, john.bowis@europarl.europa.eu) Martin Callanan - North East (martin.callanan@europarl.europa.eu) Chris Davies - North West (t: 0161 477 7070, chrisdaviesmep@cix.co.uk) Jill Evans - Wales (t: 01443 441395, jill.evans@europarl.europa.eu)

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