NFU petitions prime minister over pesticide proposal vote

The NFU has joined with other key stakeholders in co-signing a letter to Gordon Brown, calling on the Government to ensure that changes to pesticide regulations do not reduce growers' ability to produce food at a time of rising food prices, production costs and concerns over food security.

The letter seeks to ensure that the EU-wide impact of the proposals are fully understood and mitigated where they could have an impact on food supply. It calls for the EU Commission to publish an assessment on the effect of cut-off measures on consumers before the regulation is agreed.

NFU director-general Richard Macdonald said: "At a time of rising food prices and food security concerns we must be certain we do not introduce EU legislation that has an unacceptable impact on farmers' ability to grow reliable, supplies of high-quality food or has unseen consequences for consumers."

Other signatories include the Crop Protection Association (CPA), British Crop Production Council, British Retail Consortium and the Fresh Produce Consortium.

CPA chief executive Dominic Dyer said: "The UK government must take every step possible to ensure the impact of the proposals is fully understood - it is crucial that the right decisions are taken to safeguard against any serious impacts on food supply for EU consumers."

The letter, also sent to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders, comes as the NFU launches an online campaign aiming to raise industry awareness of the impact of the review while urging growers and farmers to contact their MEPs urging for a "no" vote to proposed changes.

The NFU believes that growers could lose up to 15 per cent of current approved sprays including some that are critical for carrots, potatoes and parsnips. The proposals could go further, resulting in the loss of 85 per cent of all approved EU pesticides, thus increasing pest and disease problems.

- The Soil Association has called for a UK ban of all neonicotinoid pesticides following suspensions in four other European countries. Germany, Slovenia, France and Italy have halted use after the chemicals were implicated in killing honeybee populations.

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