9 November 2001
Farmers’ ‘new friend’: FOE or FoE?

By Tom Allen-Stevens

CHEMICAL manufacturer Bayer has denied that its new herbicide has anything to do with environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth.

This is despite the fact the two share the same name: FOE.

“Its called FOE after the initials of the head of the team of chemists that developed it,” Bayers herbicide product manger Peter Stacey told FWi.

“It has nothing to do with the environmental group, although I do hope they dont take umbrage.”

The herbicide, active ingredient flufenacet, will only be available in mixtures, such as with pendimethalin in the BASF pre-emergence cereal product Crystal.

“The current advertising campaign is to inform customers who have come across it in a mixture, that it is a Bayer product – a bit like computers with Intel inside.

“If theyre satisfied with the product, we hope theyll look for the FOE lozenge on other products,” said Mr Stacey.

But Friends of the Earth may be less than satisfied about the new product, that has the caption “A powerful new friend in weed control”.

“We have a large number of concerns about the way herbicides are used and how theyre tested,” said FoEs Real Food and Farming campaigner Pete Riley.

The organisation is concerned that inadequate testing goes into finding out just how friendly such products are to non-target plant and animal species.

“At the moment the agrochemical industry is the only body funding the testing and it has a vested interest in the results.”

Flufenacet is set to be a major talking point at next weeks Brighton Crop Protection Conference.

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