EU rules could slash crop production

PRODUCTION of wheat, potato and brassica crops will be reduced by 25%, if even the most lenient set of proposals to amend the EU’s pesticide regulations is adopted.

In the first attempt by a member state to assess the proposals, British experts have calculated that the most severe proposals — made by the European Parliament — would reduce production of the three crops by at least 53%, making them uneconomical to grow.

The parliament wants to ban up to 100% of the insecticides used on wheat, potato and brassica crops.

For all the proposals being discussed, a significant increase in crop area would be required to make up for falling production, according to the assessment by ADAS, Britain’s largest independent provider of environmental solutions, rural development services and policy advice.

The ADAS study was commissioned by the European Crop Protection Industry, the pan-European voice of the crop protection industry.

Discussion of the proposals, scheduled for implementation in late 2009, may come to a head at next week’s EU Council of agriculture ministers, and the Irish crop protection industry has asked Minister Brendan Smith to recommend a full impact assessment at the Council.

Brendan Barnes, director of APHA, which represents manufacturers and distributors of plant protection products, also warned that the proposals would dramatically restrict usage of plant protection products and could add to food inflation.

He said the crop protection industry throughout the EU has also written to the President of the EU council of agriculture ministers, requesting a detailed assessment.

“While regulation is important in protecting the interests of food producers, consumers and the environment, at a time when food shortages and food security are issues of global concern, it is vital that any new EU measures are properly and fully assessed,” Mr Barnes said.

Due to the proposals that cut-off criteria for plant protection product approvals become hazard rather than risk-based, chemicals deemed to be of “very high concern” are likely to be excluded.

The European Parliament has proposed a policy that has more stringent cut-off criteria than agreed by the commission.


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