EU agricultural ministers failed to agree controversial pesticide legislation at a Farm Council meeting in Brussels yesterday [19 May].

But progress was made, according to Iztoc Jarc, the Slovenian agriculture minister and Farm Council chairman, towards political agreement over amendments to the rules governing approval of pesticides in the EU.

A compromise proposal received the support of the majority of member states, he said.

The aim now was to reach agreement on the proposals, which the UK’s Pesticide Safety Directorate believe could seriously hamper crop production, at the next Farm Council meeting in June.

One of the main sticking points, according to the European Crop Protection Association, was over the so-called cut-off criteria. These would automatically exclude products based on their potential hazard to human health rather than on a scientific risk assessment.

“Cut-offs based on hazard are not the right solution to ensure food safety and this clearly needs more discussion,” Friedholm Schmider, ECPA’s director, said.

“We hope that all the players will now realise that we definitely need a proper impact assessment of this proposal. Ministers need to understand how the cut-offs will affect both food safety and the sustainability of European agriculture.

“Europe cannot allow itself the luxury of banning pesticides based on an idealistic view of agriculture,” he said.

According to PSD, the original proposals could remove up to 15% of products available to UK growers, including triazole fungicides – crucial for controlling foliar diseases in cereal crops.