The EU must ensure crop protection products are safer, but not at the expense of massive cuts in food production, according to Conservative MEP Robert Sturdy.

Mr Sturdy warned that efforts to shift the emphasis away from a risk-based approach towards the hazard-based approach agreed at first reading by the European parliament could result in up to 81% of herbicides, 94% of insecticides and 85% of fungicides being banned.

The French presidency of the EU is intending to have the regulation passed before the end of the year.

But Conservatives have demanded a full EU-wide impact assessment beforehand, to fully spell out the impact overzealous legislation will have on food production.

combining combine wheat

Mr Sturdy, who sits on the parliament’s environment committee, said: “We accept that we do need pesticides legislation, but it must be realistic, practical and based on sound science.

“Ultimately, if we make it more difficult to protect our crops and green spaces, we will lose our countryside and have to import more food. This would be bad news for farmers, for consumers and for developing nations struggling to feed themselves.

“Before we move any further on this legislation, the commission must carry out an EU-wide impact assessment which I believe will underline the potential damage an unbalanced approach would cause.”

Having a full EU-wide impact assessment is one of the central demands of Farmers Weekly’s Save our Sprays campaign, and e-petition.

Meanwhile, the NFU and its German equivalent DBV have committed to work together to lobby against the proposals.

“We believe that the sustainable use of plant protection products is integral to producing safe, affordable and abundant food, particularly at a time of growing shortages across the globe and a burgeoning population,” said a statement from the organisations’ two presidents.