The loss of agrochemical actives due to EU changes to pesticide laws could cost the UK farming industry more than £905m, according to an Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) report.
The European Commission is working on a definition of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have been linked to a range of serious illnesses.
The revision of pesticide approvals legislation could result in a ban on key classes of crop protection products, such as azole-based fungicides.
A report by levy body AHDB shows the disastrous effect EU regulatory decisions could have on farmers’ access to vital pesticides.
The loss of agrochemical actives as a result of recent EU hazard-based assessment criteria has the potential to cost UK agriculture more than £905m – or 10% of current farmgate value, the AHDB report warns.
Cereals, oilseeds, pulses, potatoes, sugar beet, hops and vines face a total loss of £151m (3% of farmgate value) under EU endocrine disruptor legislation, the report says.
The potential implications for winter wheat in scenario one is estimated at £12m, and oilseed rape losses are estimated at £4m.
“The ability of UK farmers and growers to seize their share of growing market opportunities depends on having the right tools to become the most efficient and sustainable food producers they can.”
Harley Stoddart, HGCA policy and research manager, said: “The loss of fungicides to manage rust, especially epoxiconazole, would cause the greatest yield reductions in winter wheat.
“For oilseed rape the loss of metconazole and tebuconazole used for disease are the main challenges. The loss of propyzamide and carbetamide would also severely limit the ability to manage blackgrass, which affects 40-50% of arable fields.”
The loss of linuron would cost the potato sector £52m (6% of farmgate value) as a result of reduction in weed control. And the loss of mancozeb would knock a further £3m off due to increased costs.
Meanwhile, the potential loss of metribuzin would inflict a further loss of £56m on the UK potato industry, the report states.
AHDB chairman Peter Kendall said: “The ability of UK farmers and growers to seize their share of growing market opportunities depends on having the right tools to become the most efficient and sustainable food producers they can.
“Central to that ambition is retaining access to effective crop protection products. This AHDB report comes at a critical time to provide independent information to inform the wider debate.”
According to the NFU, 57 out of 87 active ingredients (66%) under review are at risk depending on how the EU defines EDCs.
The union urged farmers, agronomists and anyone involved in food production to respond to the European Commission’s public consultation on the review of EDC definitions, which is open until 16 January, 2015.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said: “We welcome the most recent AHDB report investigating the review of the endocrine disruptor (ED) definitions and its effect on the availability of plant protection products on food and plant production in the UK.
“The ED definition is the reason two-thirds of the active ingredients have been assessed as being at risk by the Andersons’ report, commissioned by the NFU, CPA and AIC. It is critical that the review of the endocrine disruptor definition is based on the best scientific understanding of the risk.”