NFU/HDC conference will urge industry to unite to deal with pesticide laws

A two-day conference to help the horticulture industry forge a "united way" to deal with changing European pesticide laws is being organised by the NFU and the HDC.

The event will be held on 7-8 October at Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) in North Yorkshire, to discuss how growers, crop associations and producer organisations can "act as one and change what is potentially a very uncertain future".

The first day of the conference will see speakers, including the Pesticides Safety Directorate's (PSD's) Russell Wedgebury, explain to delegates the implications of the EU's new 396/2005 regulation - which sees maximum residue levels (MRLs) harmonised across Europe and consequently the withdrawal of several common crop-protection products (see p33).

On the second day, speakers will discuss the proposed revised 91/414 regulation - an EU document that has already been agreed by the Agricultural Council of Ministers and is due to go to the European Parliament in late October.

The regulation could result in the removal of pesticides that pose a hazard - regardless of how minute a risk this hazard poses to human health.

According to the PSD, as much as 80 per cent of pesticide products used by growers could be withdrawn if this happens.

NFU Board for Horticulture vice-chairman and representative on crop protection issues Sarah Pettitt said: "Both the horticulture and agriculture industries would be substantially affected by these proposals, but horticulture is facing unique challenges because in many cases horticulture has only one product for one pest or disease on any one crop.

"To limit the damage of these regulations, UK horticulture must work together and in collaboration with like-minded EU growers and their organisations."

- Individuals or organisations wishing to register their interest in this event are invited to contact STC's Emma Fisk. Email or call 01757 268275.

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