NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

Orson's Oracle

What’s in a name?

Posted on 23/11/2011 by Jim Orson

I remember speaking to a soft fruit grower in the early 1970s about the early days of pesticide use. There appeared to be no regulation. He claimed that he fed his treated crops to rabbits on the evening before marketing and went ahead and sold the produce if the rabbits appeared to be fit and well the next morning. Apparently, they always appeared to be fit and well!

Then things got a bit more complicated. Those who have been around the industry will remember the orange book of Approved pesticide products. It was quite a volume and was distributed free every year by MAFF. The last edition was in 1985 when the old Agricultural Approvals Scheme came to an end. This was a voluntary scheme where the efficacy of a product was Approved. These products were based on pesticides that had been ‘cleared’ for use.

The system was replaced by a system that included a statutory assessment of the efficacy of products. Eventually this was superseded by the EU directive 91/414 but the word ‘approval’ still had resonance as being a product whose efficacy had been independently validated.

The new EU regulation on pesticide registration came into force in June this year. It has resulted in a multitude of changes on how pesticides will be assessed. Unfortunately, to say the least, many of these changes will not be nailed down for two or three years. This uncertainty is not good for those seeking to get active ingredients registered or re-registered.

However, one simple thing has changed. The word ‘approval’ now means something different. Now active ingredients will be approved for use in the EU and products based on approved active ingredients will be authorised. After forty years of using the word ‘approved’ for products on the market this is going to get some getting used to.

I still have a copy of the 1985 Approved products book…

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