28 November 1997

Europe-wide SOLA solution?

NEW pan-European initiatives to safeguard the use of minor crop pesticides are under way.

The hope is that authorisations granted in one member state will be recognised in another, thus avoiding the need to repeat expensive work to maintain specific off-label approvals (SOLAs), says Chris Wise of the NFU.

Pesticide manufacturers are increasingly unwilling to meet the cost of maximum residue limits for each pesticide/crop combination and the problems of product liability. As a result, the chemical armoury available to horticulture and vegetable growers is diminishing.

The Dutch estimate up to 30% of uses have been revoked in recent years. In the UK, the use of cypermethrin and chlorpyrifos has already been revoked, affecting carrot, swede and white turnip growers. Chlorfenvinphos granules have also been withdrawn.

"The situation has prompted regulators, representatives of the grower industry and pesticide producers to seek ways of spreading the burden of generating data, or to make existing data available, to support regulatory decision making," says Dr Wise.

Two working groups have been established. The first, under German leadership, is developing an international database of minor uses to identify important problems. The second, led by the Dutch, is considering ways of dealing with them, including harmonised authorisation.

The Dutch group includes EU legislation officials, European growers and manufacturers. It will study topics like efficacy requirements, residue data, liability, and registration, and how to exchange information between grower groups in different member states.

In the UK, growers can now access specific off-label approvals from Internet service Farming on Line. The database, compiled by the NFU, and Camden and Chorleywood Food Research Association, has been available since September.