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COMMENT: NIAB warns of further losses of plant protection products

21 October 2014

NIAB has welcomed today’s (21 October) publication of an independent report on the economic impact of the loss of plant protection products (PPPs) on UK agriculture, and warns of potential further losses of active ingredients in the future.

The report The effect of the loss of plant protection products on UK agriculture and horticulture and the wider economy, produced by the farm business consultants Andersons, was commissioned by the NFU, CPA and AIC. It highlights how the loss or restricted use of some PPP active ingredients could threaten the production of many British foods, and cause a fall in farming incomes, job losses and a restructuring of the UK food and farming industry.

Bill Clark, NIAB’s Technical Commercial Director says: “The impact of the new EU legislation 1107/2009 is now beginning to bite with the potential loss of some key active ingredients for the UK arable industry. The move from a risk-based assessment to a hazard-based one, coupled with new cut-off criteria may mean other PPPs could still be lost. With comparative assessment legislation it will be even more difficult to bring new active ingredients to market.” 

Mr Clark explains that the overall effect will be a reduction in the number and range of agrochemicals available to UK farmers, with pest and disease control proving an increasingly more difficult challenge. A potential consequence could be a drop in crop yields and an increase in resistance issues to PPPs, leading to further losses of active ingredients. 

“UK researchers must maintain pressure on EU policymakers to ensure a sensible balance between the ‘protection of human and animal health and the environment’ and ‘safeguarding the competitiveness of EU agriculture’ – statements embedded in Regulation 1107/2009. The Regulation may well have been drafted with good intentions but the unintended consequences may prove to be very damaging to EU agricultural production, and may even affect the poorest in developing countries.

“The impact of a loss in PPPs has to be assessed along the whole food chain. Long-term food production will become more difficult and expensive as yields drop, at a time when food security issues are becoming increasingly important,” warns Mr Clark.

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