Pesticide rules threaten production of certain foodstuffs

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Eu

European Commission (EC) proposals to ban certain pesticides in the EU could halt production of some foods currently made in Europe and similar foods...

European Commission (EC) proposals to ban certain pesticides in the EU could halt production of some foods currently made in Europe and similar foods imported into the EU, the British Crop Production Council (BCPC) has warned.

The BCPC has called on the EU’s Agriculture Council to vote against even tougher revisions to the proposed EU Regulation on pesticide use when it meets today to consider them. The BCPC wants more time for Member States and the EC itself to conduct impact assessments on food production to see whether the removal of these pesticides would really benefit human health or the environment.

The EC plans to ban a large number of pesticides, used widely on farms within the EU. However, the BCPC has warned that the same pesticides are also used on many products imported into the EU too. The BCPC’s stance echoes similar concerns​ raised by the European Crop Protection Association.

The BCPC is fighting against a ban, arguing that there isn’t any direct evidence of adverse health effects from these pesticides to consumers. Under the existing proposals, the BCPC claimed that UK crop yields would drop significantly - cereals by as much as 30% - while many fruit and vegetables would not be able to be grown at all. The BCPC warned that this would cause increased demand for imported food from outside the EU.

“It might be assumed that shortfalls in EU food production would be compensated for by imports from other parts of the world,” said BCPC’s Dr Colin Ruscoe. “But in many cases, these same pesticides are used to control crop pests, weeds and diseases in other parts of the world and so imported produce could have minute residues of banned substances - which would not be permitted. This can only lead to further food shortages in the EU and huge price increases for the public.”

Ruscoe added that banning the import of food treated with pesticides, which are approved for use in other parts of the world, could be seen as illegal and a barrier to international trade.

If the current pesticide proposals are passed by the EC later this year, they would be implemented towards the end of 2009, said the BCPC.