Review launched in the wake of infestations of Bemisia

A Bemisia policy review is being instigated by the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) in the wake of infestations of the pest on poinsettia this year.

FERA plant health policy team member Richard McIntosh said the review will take place in early 2010 to look at current UK policy and protected zone status and whether this was still supported by ornamental and edible growers.

The NFU convened a meeting with growers and FERA last week to discuss concerns, look at ways forward, the UK's protected zone status and growers' issues.

"Growers were very supportive of current policy," said McIntosh. "Their major concern was to have an effective armoury to deal with the problems. But we do need to evaluate policy."

He reported that 2009 had been "a fairly bad year for Bemisia" despite the UK being a protected zone. "We're keen to help growers as far as we can, pointing them in the right direction of the options to help deal with their problems."

NFU horticulture adviser Dr Chris Hartfield said: "Bemisia has been increasing as a problem. One reason it's building is because we're losing the armoury of crop protection chemicals that we have. Without an effective armoury of crop protection, chemicals are becoming very difficult to tackle pests such as Bemisia effectively."

He added: "There have been instances of Bemisia this year so ultimately it has affected the production of poinsettia just as any pest and disease would."


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