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905 Million More Reasons to Get Out of the EU

New pesticide legislation could cost UK industry £905 million

PROPOSED European legislation to tighten pesticide regulations and the definition of endocrine disruptors (ED) could cost UK agriculture more than £905 million.

10 December 2014 | By Olivia Midgley

A report commissioned by AHDB assessed the estimated financial impact of the loss of crop protection active substances which could be defined as EDs under the new EU hazard-based approach.

EU chiefs opened up a consultation period, set to run until January 16, to discuss how to regulate chemicals in the environment in terms of their ability to affect the endocrine system – which produces, stores and releases hormones in the body

AHDB chairman Peter Kendall said: “The ability of UK farmers and growers to seize their share of growing market opportunities depends on having the right tools to become the most efficient and sustainable food producers they can. 

“Central to this ambition is retaining access to effective crop protection products. This AHDB report comes at a critical time to provide independent information to inform the wider debate.”

A recent report by farm consultants Andersons, on behalf of the Crop Protection Association (CPA), NFU and the Agricultural Industries Confederation, looked at the impact of the loss or restriction of crop protection products through European regulation during the next five to seven years.

The analysis showed 40 substances at high risk of being lost which would mean up to 50 per cent falls in yield, depending on the crop. In this scenario, total UK income from farming would drop by £1.73 billion, a 36 per cent fall in overall profits.

The report found 17 substances were designated as high risk, almost half of those which could be lost or restricted, as a result of the ED criteria.

CPA chief executive, Nick von Westenholz, said: “Depending on how the EU chooses to define an ED, we could see a dramatic fall in the number of crop protection products available to farmers.”

NFU vice president Guy Smith said the AHDB report illustrated the ‘potentially calamitous’ impact of one of the most significant EU regulatory decisions, which threatened the accessibility of UK and EU farmers to use plant protection products (PPP).

“It is critical the review of ED definition is based on the best scientific understanding of the risk,” he said. 

Currently, an active ingredient cannot be used in a PPP if it classed as an ED, regardless of potency of effect or evidence of harm. 

Summary of the report

Compiled by ADAS on behalf of AHDB, British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) and the Processors’ and Growers’ Research Organisation (PGRO), the report assessed three scenarios across 51 horticultural, arable and forestry sectors. 

The estimated losses in the subsequent production year under these scenarios ranged from £905 million to more than £3 billion and assumed all active substances in a scenario were lost at the same time. They also assumed mitigating actions, such as alternative chemistry, would be used where available.

Scenario One looked at the loss of 10 fungicides, three herbicides and four insecticides, with the largest impact on the horticulture sector. Total food production losses were estimated at 2.4 million tonnes.

Scenario Two included an additional 11 fungicides, seven herbicides and two insecticides, with edible horticulture accounting for the largest proportion of losses, followed by other edible crops such as cereals, oilseeds, potatoes, pulses and sugar beet. Total food production losses were estimated at 5.7m tonnes.

Scenario Three included a further 29 active substances with significant impact across all sectors. Food production losses were estimated at 14.2 million tonnes.

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