New Pesticide Rules - Have We Lost The Fight?

The EU's new pesticide rules, if legislated, will reduce

crop yields and affect food prices and stock levies.

Unfortunately, the UK's lobbying may not be enough to stop


The EU Farm Council recently approved of EU Commission's

compromise on the new pesticide authorisation rules. However,

this is not the end of the matter as the legislation has to go

back to the European Parliament for a second reading before

returning to council. But, if anything, parliament wants

further regulation, which does not bode well for the


The UK Government has been listening to the concerns of the

farming industry and was one of only four countries to abstain

from the vote - all other member states were in favour of

the new rules. Abstaining was a better option than voting

'against' as this would have prejudiced the UK's

involvement in the debate when the legislation comes back to


The UK's case for abstaining is that the commission has

not undertaken a proper impact assessment. A recent study by

the UK's Pesticide Safety Directorate shows that the new

rules would result in a major loss of commonly used

insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. This would almost

certainly result in reduced yields of cereals, potatoes and

field vegetables.

The UK industry's argument is that this is taking place

during a time of increasing food prices and fears of food

shortages. Furthermore, and most importantly, the chemicals

likely to be banned have been proven safe in risk assessments

under current strict rules. Added to this is the concern that

reduced production within the EU will only lead to additional

imports from the rest of the world, where these same chemicals

will not be banned. If additional imports are shown to have

measurable residues of 'banned pesticides', the

commission will have to block imports, which would trigger

World Trade Organisation trade problems.

Having lost the first round in council, UK lobbying will

need to reach even higher levels in order to prevent this


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