23 April 1999
Gambit users set up potato action group

By FWi staff

POTATO growers in East Anglia, who believe their crops were adversely affected last year after using Gambit fungicide, are forming an action group.

Sales of Gambit (fenpiclonil) were suspended by manufacturer Novartis last year after complaints that it was linked to uneven emergence.

But the firm maintains no product liability has been identified.

Cambridgeshire packer MBM Produce, says several growers believe the fungicide delayed emergence and cut yields possibly by 35t/ha (14t/acre).

In all, the group had about 340ha (800 acres) affected.

“We are disappointed with the response we have had from Novartis,” said Chris Marshall, commercial agronomist with MBM.

“They were initially contacted in May 1998 with our concerns.”

Mr Marshall estimates enough Gambit was sold last season to treat about 8000ha (20,000 acres).

David Hudson, technical director at Sutton Bridge, says he examined a number of complaints last season.

“The majority of them were not caused by the Gambit. But there was a hard core which probably were.

“Its strange because it was quite widely used in 1997 without any trouble.”

Novartis spokesman Andy Pigott confirmed that Gambit was withdrawn from the market last year after a small number of complaints.

“It was a very cold and wet season,” he said. “We decided to suspend sales while a thorough case-by-case investigation was undertaken.”

  • Gambit withdrawn while maker sees what went wrong, Farmers Weekly, 16 October, 1998