Any decision to ban or restrict agricultural pesticides must be based on sound science, NFU horticulture chairman Sarah Dawson has warned.

Mrs Dawson was speaking after a report sponsored by the agrochemical company found neonicotinoid pesticides are worth up to £630m annually to the UK economy – money that could be lost if farmers were prevented from using them.

Earlier this month, a report by European scientists identified a number of risks posed by neonicotinoid pesticides to bees, prompting environmentalists to calls for the agrochemicals to face a partial or outright ban.

But Mrs Dawson said it would be wrong to take a overly precautionary approach, which would effectively prevent growers from using neonicotinoids before trying to establishing whether there was a scientific reason for reintroducing them.

“We want it to be business as usual – certainly within horticulture. We want to continue being behind solid robust science. There is a lot of science needed indeed before we can categorically come out and be very firm in suggesting one direction or the other.”

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