14 April 2000

Greener spray labels warrant a closer study

By Andrew Blake

INCREASINGLY cautious pesticide regulators are making closer scrutiny of product labels essential to stay within the law, warn two leading distributors.

Environmentally driven LERAP and insect protection buffer zones are starting to bite into East Anglian distributor Hutchinsons spray recommendations. Experiences in Scotland confirm the trend.

"It is fair to say they are restricting overall use of our preferred choice products," says Hutchinsons Dick Neale. "Even if products dont need a LERAP they may well have a 6m boundary restriction applied to all fields. It is now more important than ever for growers and advisers to read labels."

Mr Neales comments follow the application of a 6m statutory insect protection buffer zone to Cyanamids novel fungicide Caramba (metconazole). The zone was subsequently made voluntary.

If the statutory restriction had been maintained that would have severely limited the products potential, maintains CSC Crop Protections John Hughes.

There is no evidence that environmental screws are being tightened under EU Directive 91/414 governing active ingredient approval, says Novartiss head of registration Lorna Baldwin. "But regulations on eco-toxicology are constantly being updated. Its a very fast-moving area. The rules are based on precautionary principles so there is a tendency to err on the side of caution."

Signs are now emerging that manufacturers are less likely to generate the extra data requested to over-turn such precautionary label restrictions.

Fluquinconazole-based fungicides from Aventis are a case in point. Foil (fluquinconazole + prochloraz) and Flamenco (fluquinconazole) do not attract an insect protection buffer, says the firms Alison Daniels. But, Vista CT (fluquinconazole + chlorothalonil) does.

Manufacturers can overcome such restrictions through more registration work. But none is planned for Vista CT, she says.

Buffers six meters wide apply to products deemed a risk to non-target insects and other arthropods, explains Cyanamids Mike Barrett.

Mr Neale pinpoints other environmental restrictions growers should be aware of. "No pyrethroid or organophosphorus insecticides may be used within 6m of a field boundary after Mar 31. Thats been in force for two years.

"And if you use a pyrethroid at cereal ear emergence for aphids you cannot go back with another pyrethroid, though you could use Aphox (pirimicarb)."

"Our own computer-based system helps flag up such things." It also highlights triple use of strobilurin fungicides on the same crop, a practice not illegal but frowned on by ACCS, he adds. &#42

INSECT BUFFER ZONES

&#8226 Separate from LERAP/water.

&#8226 Statutory or advisory.

&#8226 Precautionary principles.

&#8226 Less spraying flexibility.