Sector views on European pesticide proposals

Industry figures from the fresh produce, landscape and amenity, and ornamentals sectors give their views on the the latest EU proposals.

FRESH PRODUCE SECTOR

- Rob Clayton, knowledge transfer manager, Potato Council

"Products such as mancozeb, crucial to managing blight, will be withdrawn, along with key aphicides, herbicides and slug controls. An epidemic of blight will thus spell disaster. Over 65 per cent of our landbase is infected by potato cyst nematodes, and if we can't control them, we will no longer be profitable. By the third rotation we expect growers to produce less than 10 tonnes per hectare."

- Martin Evans, chairman, British Carrot Growers' Association

"It's a suicide pact. The strategy will put up food prices by 30 or 40 per cent and you won't get re-elected on that. Curiously, the regulations could throw open an opportunity for growers if half of people's income goes on food. Or maybe European horticulture will collapse because nobody buys fruit and vegetables any more and carrots are imported from non-EU nations. Is this feasible and will it be tolerated, given the rising costs of living, the proliferation of regulation and the 10 million people who are set to come to the UK?"

- Anthony Snell, soft fruit grower and NFU Horticulture Board member

"My biggest fear is they will throw away sensible science and turn back the clock 20 years. My only message for the EU is to use common sense. We have spent years developing science for pesticides and are not compromising food safety: it is top of the soft fruit sector's agenda. We all agree with the responsible reduction of agrochemicals, but need an armoury to be competitive. It's difficult to put a figure on the damage it will cause, but every time you are told to use fewer products, you end up losing production."

LANDSCAPE AND AMENITY SECTOR

- David Brew, managing director, Wyevale Landscapes

"We have dramatically reduced the amount of chemicals over the past five years, but there is still a continued need for certain herbicides. Whether that point will get listened to is another matter. Without herbicides, we will have to use labour, which is far more expensive. There is a cost-benefit ratio. Is disposing of waste by trundling around in vehicles more efficient than using herbicides? In trying to be more 'green', we can create more emissions."

- Steve Smith, parks manager, Oldham Council

"We have been reducing the armoury of products for years as chemicals have been found in ground water and glyphosate is really all we have left. If we are to eradicate pesticides completely, we have got to replace them with more staff who can get rid of weeds manually. If there was grant funding in place then it would be fine. We employ chemicals in the main as a labour-saving device. All these people in Brussels have great ideas, but it's us who have to deal with them at the coal face. If councils can be given relief from Europe, in the form of grants to employ more staff, then we won't have to use chemicals."

- Geoff Webb, chief executive, Institute of Groundsmanship

"We are making sure our members are aware of the legislation and urging them to keep lobbying their MEPs. The impact on the UK is frustrating in that our standards are probably higher than anywhere else in Europe. Unfortunately, we are suffering from a blanket approach when we have already taken steps to raise awareness and standards."

ORNAMENTALS SECTOR

- Wayne Brough, ADAS consultant

"If the number of pesticides mentioned in the PSD report were to disappear, it would have a widespread effect on the horticulture industry. The removal of herbicides doesn't really affect bedding plant growers, but there are quite a few insecticides, fungicides and plant-growth regulators which could potentially be lost and would make a difference. Bedding plant production won't be impossible if these products were to be lost, but it would make control difficult as growers wouldn't be able to alternate between products, which helps prevent pests building up resistance."

- Wayne Eady, managing director, Delamore

"We seem to be in an ever-tightening net. We are struggling more and more to have sufficient chemicals in the armoury. As pesticides are getting withdrawn, as opposed to introduced, it makes the job a lot harder. Growers are using more cultural and biological controls, such as natural predators and increasing air movement, but while these are helpful, it is also necessary to have chemicals to act against certain pests and diseases. For example, we have to use insecticides against Remisia, as this notifiable pest demands zero tolerance. I understand if products are being withdrawn for safety reasons, but there should also be a lobby on the other side for the introduction of safer chemicals which can be used on ornamental crops, not just food crops."

- Geoff Caesar, managing director, Bransford Webbs Plant Company

"I am concerned. If the proposals go through, we would have serious problems. If we lost these pesticides, we would be starting from scratch. The HTA has encouraged growers to write to their MEPs and our company will be sending a letter to all five local staff."


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