UK food manufacturers claim the outcome of this week’s vote supporting tighter pesticide usage by the European Parliament’s environment committee fails to fully recognise the potential gravity of the emerging situation.
On Wednesday, the committee approved a ban on pesticides that are toxic to human health as part of the proposed EU Framework Directive regulation, which will lay down common objectives and requirements for sustainable use of pesticides amid growing public concern over their impact.
Callton Young, director of sustainability and competitiveness at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), told FoodProductionDaily.com that the ban would have serious implications for raw material supplies and prices, which he argues are already under pressure due to factors such as climate change and increasing global demand from biofuels and emerging economies.
“The FDF fully supports the need for plant protection products to be subjected to rigorous scientific risk based approval to protect human and environmental health.
“However, we are very concerned by the Government’s estimates that the UK would suffer 20 to 30 per cent reductions in arable yields and an inability to grow a range of fruit and vegetables as a result of the Commission’s proposal,” explained Young.
The FDF said it will to continue to press the European Parliament, Council and Commission to reach decisions on this proposal based upon a robust impact assessment.
The MEPs did agree on the introduction of a compromise amendment for upcoming negotiations with the Council and the European Commission, which are set to take place ahead of a second reading on the pesticides proposal in January next year.
The committee voted for a minimum 50 per cent reduction target for ‘active substances of very high concern’ and chemicals categorised as ’toxic or very toxic.’
Member states, according to the proposal’s amendment, could reject pesticides authorisation granted by other EU countries, and also could allow the continued usage of toxic substances if they are proven essential for crop survival.
However, the pesticide industry argues that the committee is ideologically driven.
The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), which lobbies on behalf of the pesticide sector, said the legislation had “no scientific or practical basis.”
And the ECPA claims that the bill would lead to an unnecessary ban on a number of products "that have been shown to meet high safety standards and are currently being used safely by European farmers."