Report highlights threat of reduced pesticide controls

Industry figures have welcomed a report commissioned by the NFU, Crop Protection Association and Agricultural Industries Confederation that draws attention to the threat to UK production from tougher restrictions on pesticide use.

Commenting on the report, English Apples & Pears (EAP) chief executive Adrian Barlow said while top-fruit growers increasingly minimise their use of plant-protection products (PPPs), some British-grown varieties could be under threat without the availability of more effective PPPs.

He added: "The NFU has been absolutely right to draw attention to this situation. EAP is concerned that, with the decreasing number of products available to growers, we may not be able to control some of the pests diseases that are problems (in orchards) at the moment.

"For example, we urgently require new controls in relation to canker. It affects new varieties and, going forward, it (the loss or restricted use of active ingredients) is likely to result in some varieties perhaps not being grown in Britain. So getting the balance right is important.

"This season we have seen for the first time a considerable amount of scab in Gala orchards. The reduction in the number of (pesticides) used to control the disease, along with changes to the period between controls and in some cases the strength of product, are contributory factors to this increase."

EAP is also increasingly concerned that "we are only going to have Roundup to controls weeds."

The report prepared by farm consultancy Andersons claimed that UK production of apples, carrots and vining peas is threatened by growing restrictions on active ingredients. It put the value in lost production at £1.6bn a year.

Speaking at the National Fruit Show, the NFU's William White said growers also face obstacles at national level. "Why can a product licensed in Germany not be used right away in the UK? Currently it takes two years for the Chemicals Regulation Directorate to re-approve it, if you're lucky."

British Growers Association chief executive Jack Ward added: "Growers elsewhere don't have to pay for the approvals process."

Campaigners against pesticide use criticised the report. The Soil Association's Tom MacMillan said: "There is no mention of the benefits of having more pollinators."

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