12 December 1997

Root fly control ban in carrots

NEW scientific evidence has deprived vegetable growers of one of their defences against carrot root fly.

A study of fresh data on phorate, submitted by maker United Phosphorus to maintain registration, has led MAFF to suspend the insecticides use on carrots and, by extrapolation, parsnips.

Information on the organophosphorous compound showed residues in single carrots higher than previously detected in MAFF surveys. The Advisory Committee on Pesticides considered this reduced safety margins for consumers and recommended suspension.

Potential problems were first noted in 1995 when phorate residues were found in supermarket produce and buyers were advised to top, tail and skin carrots before eating them, a UP spokesman notes.

Approvals for using phorate on other crops such as potatoes remain unchanged, he stresses.

David Martin, Wisbech-based independent vegetable consultant and editor of the NFU growing protocols, says carbamate granules are a useful alternative to phorate.

"The carrot industry is not using a great deal of phorate, having moved away from OPs in a substantial way. So there will be little immediate impact. But it is yet another nail in the coffin of OPs which are still used significantly in other field vegetables."