***Update: The final EU banning regulation has now been published and gives a maximum date of until 20 November 2019 to sell or distribute existing stocks of product and a maximum use-up date for products of 20 May 2020. Member States are left to set their withdrawal dates within these boundaries but the UK has since chosen to use the maximum dates as set out by the EU regulation.***
Chlorothalonil, a highly effective multi-site fungicide that has been used across the world for over 50 years, has been banned by the European Union.
Draft regulation for the non-renewal of the approval of the active was tabled at a meeting of an EU Standing Committee on 21-22 March and was supported by a majority of Member States in a subsequent vote.
The final use-up and withdrawal dates for products containing chlorothalonil are yet to be published, but this is the last season it's likely to be available.
The loss of chlorothalonil will come as a huge blow to farmers. The UK’s maritime climate makes our crops particularly susceptible to fungal diseases. Chlorothalonil, with its multiple modes of action, plays a vital strategic role underpinning control and resistance management of fungal diseases in UK crops.
Without chlorothalonil there is a high risk of the rapid development of resistance to other more susceptible fungicides, including strobilurins, carboxamides and azoles. Having a range of fungicides available has helped enable effective control of fungal diseases, including those that can lead to mycotoxin formation - a serious public health risk.
Dr Chris Hartfield, NFU senior regulatory affairs adviser, said: ““Chlorothalonil has been an essential tool in the UK to keep resistance development under control. It has played a vital role underpinning control of fungal diseases in UK crops like barley, wheat, asparagus and narcissus. Not having it in the toolbox significantly increases the risk of rapid development of resistance to other fungicides.
“We feel the Commission has been overly precautionary in making this decision and has failed to consider the particular importance of this active in the control of critical fungal diseases and in managing disease resistance. As a result, we believe sectors of UK agricultural and horticultural production will be put at significant risk.”
Farmers from across the UK and beyond have also reacted to the decision with concern. Chairman of NFU Scotland’s Crops Committee, Ian Sands, said: “the loss of chlorothalonil has the potential to make the viability of growing crops border line and given the huge importance of barley and wheat to the Scottish drinks industry, this could cause serious problems for this iconic sector" and Chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s Grain Committee, Mark Browne, said: “A Teagasc report indicated where Chlorothalonil is not available, there is the potential for a net margin reduction of over 50% in wheat, and 65% in Irish barley production.”
Click here to find out about the NFU's work on Chlorothalonil