European arable cropping could be made uneconomic if proposed EU legislation to reform pesticides approvals is passed, a group of leading European researchers has warned.

The group of scientists and researchers from seven countries presented the Slovenian EU presidency with a declaration on the potential risks from the legislation in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana last week.

The group feared that further approval restrictions would reduce the number of pesticides available. And that in turn would mean the remaining pesticides would be used more intensively, increasing the likelihood of resistance developing.

The ongoing EU re-registration process has already eliminated 530 out of 952 existing products, but the revision of that legislation could go much further. An EU parliament reading of the EU Commission’s proposal in October 2007 added criteria that would potentially remove 70-85% of the remaining active substance, according to the scientists.

In the “Declaration of Ljubljana” the group said that such a move would endanger the sustainability of European farming. The increased risk of developing resistance would make the cultivation of many crops, including wheat, barley, potatoes, vegetables and grapes, in Europe problematic or uncompetitive, they said.

“To safeguard the production of food at affordable prices, it is essential to provide farmers with access to sufficient diversity of crop protection solutions,” said Ian Denholm of Rothamsted Research and spokesman for the group of scientists.

“This is essential to prevent or delay the development of resistant pests, and to maintain the efficacy of remaining crop protection products.”

European government agriculture ministers are due to reach a political agreement on the legislation in May.