NFU Horticulture and Potatoes board chairman, Ali Capper, reflects on the ongoing tug of war between scientific evidence and political 'point scoring' and how it threatens the loss of much needed plant protection products.
Back in the summer of 2014, the NFU launched its Healthy Harvest campaign to set the record straight on the use of plant protection products (PPPs). Because for far too long, some very active NGO’s had been turning what should have been a purely scientific debate into a political ‘point scoring’ exercise. The recent delays on a decision to re-approve Glyphosate are a case in point. The strong weight of evidence, backed by the likes of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), shows that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic. Yet public pressure, rather than scientific evidence, has meant the continued use of the product is now uncertain.
The issues over PPP availability are not exclusive to the EU. Public pressure in the UK is just as strong as ‘pesticides’ have unfairly become a dirty word. Fortunately, we do seem to have a more pragmatic government but it is important that they ensure the regulatory body, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD), is sufficiently resourced to deal with registrations in the UK and fully adopts the harmonisation process across Europe so that we don’t have even more delays than are already experienced from the EU.
On other matters, the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes board continues to work hard on behalf of our members and we’ve revamped our regular activity report to highlight some of the activities we’ve been involved with in recent weeks. Take a look at the latest activity report here and for more information on your local/sector representatives on the board, check out this summary.
Finally, I must make a plea for your support with our ongoing efforts to mitigate the impacts of the National Living Wage. This week, the Low Pay Commission (LPC) opened a consultation on the NLW and NMW rates in 2017 and we need your help gathering suitable evidence to support our response.
There are two things you can do. Firstly, please fill in our survey, here, to tell us how the living wage is, and will be, impacting on your farm. And Secondly, and most importantly, please use our simple letter template and write directly to the LPC to tell them how challenging the living wage is. The more they hear from grass roots growers, the better chance we have to influence their recommendations to government.
If you want to get in touch, you can find me on twitter @alicapper or email me on YWxpY2FwcGVyQG1hYy5jb20=