UK warning to Brussels on over-zealous approach to pest products

Horsch UK’s Leeb BoomControl Pro _26578

A stark warning has been issued to MEPs in Brussels against the over-zealous and ill-considered banning of important pesticides.

The European Parliament's Agriculture Committee heard the cautionary message from one of Britain's leading growers at a hearing on Sustainable Plant Protection.

NFU member and Herefordshire farmer John Chinn, who is also Chairman of the UK's Centre for Applied Crop Science, was nominated by West Midlands Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre to make a presentation in the Parliament.  

Mr Chinn said the EU was not performing well in its gauging of risk management when approving or banning plant protection products such as insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.

He told the hearing: "A failure to distinguish between hazard and risk is an essential part of the confusion about perceived threats from or to our environment; in general hazard identification is easy and often speculative; risk evaluation is generally complex and demanding.

"Rational responses are not invariable. There is an extraordinary disregard for well documented risks while others, of marginal significance, distort public and private spending decisions.

"These factors, coupled with a perverse preference for natural toxicity over synthetic safety, lead to an indifferent performance in risk management in the community."

See also: Our dedicated channel on Glyphosate

After the hearing, Miss McIntyre said: "It was really good to hear from someone with a wealth of first hand experience, a detailed grasp of the subject and a great deal of common sense - a commodity often in short supply here! Mr Chinn was very polite and very scientifically precise in his language - but he made no secret of his low opinion of some large parts of the EU's performance in this area.

"His basic warning was that effective and low-risk products were being denied to farmers when using them would improve food security and benefit the environment. He concluded by telling the Committee that with new technologies we can achieve the twin goals of increased agricultural production and an enhanced environment.

"I was pleased that his message chimed so closely with my own recent report on Technological Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture which emphasised the need for innovation, new techniques and scientific advances to be adopted across all sectors of agriculture in order to feed a growing population without damaging the environment."

'EU pesticides regulation is failing farmers'

​Read the blog from our senior regulatory affairs adviser Chris Hartfield here.