Approvals threat to minor crops

Growers of minor crops, such as rye, linseed and borage, could be faced with a much reduced choice of chemical inputs following a proposed shake-up in the approvals system.

Under the current long-term arrangement of extension of use (LTAEU) approval process there is a ‘read-across’ system allowing products approved on major crops to be used on related minor crops.

“For example, anything approved on wheat can in practice be used on rye and triticale. That gives growers access to a lot of chemicals,” explains HGCA R&D director Graham Jellis.

“But there isn’t any parallel system in Europe. Under EC regulations maximum residue levels have to be set for each product’s specific authorised use.

“And if there isn’t one, as for minor crop use, then the MRL is set at the lowest detectable level, which essentially precludes its use on those crops.”

The Pesticides Safety Directorate is currently consulting on how to bring minor crops into the system, he says.

Three different options have been proposed.

These aer a specific off-label approval (SOLA) for each product / crop combination; adding an on-label approval for minor crops where approval has been granted for major crops; and issuing generic active based approvals once a SOLA has been granted for a similar active.

“PSD is indicating it favours the first option.

“Its concern with just adding on-label approvals for minor crops is there would be no data of efficacy, and it is also concerned from a liability perspective, while the generic-based approach wouldn’t be consistent with its product-based approach.”

But the problem with the first option is potentially the extra cost involved, he says.

The cheapest SOLA costs around £245, but if more data is required it can get into the thousands, says Prof Jellis.

“Who’s going to pay for it? If it comes via levy board money, as is typically the case in the horticultural industry currently, then it could take a lot of money from budgets intended for research.

“And manufacturers might take a business decision not to fund it, if it falls on them.”

That leaves a worst-case scenario of much reduced options for growers, he says.

“Together with the HDC and the NFU we’re registering concern about the expense. It’s going to happen, and we want to be as helpful as possible. But whatever’s done needs to be efficient.”

Growers and advisers can help HGCA in their discussions by advising on which products they use on minor crops, adds Prof Jellis. Email comments to

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