Industry bodies to pressure EC

The NFU and horticulture research bodies are planning to exert pressure on the European Commission to establish a fund that will ease the impact of pesticides restrictions for minor crops.

As part of the Placing of Plant Protection Products Regulation, the commission has pledged to present a report to the European Parliament and Council on a fund for minor uses within two years.

NFU plant health adviser Paul Chambers said: "I hope they get moving on it reasonably soon. We would be pushing for a big industry response on this."

Experts have agreed that a fund should be developed on a model similar to the US IR-4 Project, which was set up in 1963 after the Department of Agriculture recognised the financial problems of producing new pesticides for minor crops. In 2006 around $14.5m (£9.8m) was put into the fund.

Chambers said support for funding a similar project in the EU is scarce: "The big issue is where does the money come from? There is no pot available and the (European Commission's) Directorate-General for Agriculture seems to be afraid of giving away any money for fear of setting a precedent."

Research from the Pesticides Safety Directorate shows that the UK is in the minority in not receiving government funding for minor uses. In 2007, Germany put around EUR1m (£900,000) into funding trials, while the Netherlands put in EUR1.7m (£1.5m), split between government funding and grower levies.

Stockbridge Technology Centre chief executive Graham Ward told HW a European fund could run into millions of pounds each year: "It is not just the cost of registration (of new products), it is a much more expensive research effort if we are also looking at alternative methods to chemical pesticides."

HDC technical manager Vivian Powell added: "It is critical the commission gives due importance to the horticultural sector."

- See Leader, p14

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