Essential nursery stock products under threat from new EU laws

As controversial European proposals to severely limit pesticide use head for their second reading, we report on the latest developments - and how the industry believes it will be hit.

Nursery stock growers face losing the second-most commonly used insecticide, Decis, and Conserve - the single biggest weapon against Western Flower Thrip - under the latest European Union proposals to tighten up controls on pesticides.

A range of fungicides used against powdery mildew, including Systhane, also look set to be withdrawn, "leaving only a short list of alternatives, which would place a heavy dependency on strobilurins, which have a resistance problem if overused," said Dove Associates' John Adlam, who has analysed the impact of the proposals on ornamental growers on behalf of the HTA.

Adams said: "We are not in a position yet to abandon pesticides in favour of biological systems, so the sustainability of the hardy ornamental nursery stock industry is still dependent on a range of essential products to produce the blemish-free crops that are demanded by the plant buyers."

ADAS consultant Wayne Brough said the legislation in its strictest form would not make bedding plant production impossible, "but it will make life more difficult for growers to produce top-quality plants and avoid the build-up of pesticide resistance."

"In the worst-case scenario there would be very few broad-spectrum fungicides available for general disease control with the loss of Repulse, Amistar and Stroby, while effective downy mildew control would be reduced with the loss of Fubol Gold. The control of a range of pests, including aphids, whitefly and thrips, will be also more problematic with the loss of Imidasect/Intercept, Calypso, Chess and Conserve."

Adlam has given talks to numerous growers in recent weeks, informing them which products would be lost in the worst-case scenario. Tables and notes compiled by him for nursery stock growers on which products will be affected are available from the HTA information centre (tel: 0118 930 8940) and were summarised in a letter sent out by the HDC.

The HTA has prepared a template letter and growers are being advised to write to local MEPs now, ahead of the Environmental Committee meeting in two weeks and the European Parliament vote in December.

HDC communication manager Scott Raffle said: "People's livelihoods could be affected by these proposals. We have taken this seriously, unlike some of the other European countries."

"Hopefully, between us it will have the desired effect. If we lose all these products, many businesses are really under threat."

- For the HTA template letter, visit: www.the-hta.org.uk/ic/index.asp?m=1102&s=1316

- A list of MEPs can be found at: www.europarl.org.uk/uk_meps/MembersMain.htm.


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