Representatives from the UK farming unions are heading to Strasbourg today (Monday) in a last-ditch attempt to urge MEPs to reject planned EU legislation on pesticides.
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The MEPs will be voting on a package of measures negotiated between the European parliament, the EU Commission and the Council – the so-called “trialogue agreement” – on Tuesday morning (13 January).
This will introduce new “cut-off criteria” into the approvals process, leading to further restrictions on vital crop protection products – already one of the most heavily regulated groups of chemicals in the EU.
This in turn will result in a reduction in crop yield and quality, as well as pushing up food prices.
NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “If these proposals go through unaltered we could be facing a difficult future with our agriculture and food production seriously threatened.
“The lack of sound science behind the plans is a major concern. We cannot support measures which reduce the tools available to farmers and growers to produce crops that could ultimately jeopardise future food supply and security.”
NFU Scotland‘s cereals committee chairman, John Picken, said great efforts had been made to secure the signatures of 40 MEPs to submit amendments to the text.
“It has been very difficult to determine how the vote might go, however, as the parties are split on the matter. That is why it is so important to persist right until the votes are cast.”
Ulster Farmers Union cereals chairman Robert Moore feared a significant range of pesticides would be lost to the market.
“If we are prevented from producing the quantity and quality of food which the market demands then consumers will be left to pay higher food prices. And, as ever, the EU will continue to allow imports which do not match the standards imposed on local growers”.
The Crop Protection Association said it too had serious reservations about the trialogue agreement. “There is a need for an urgent and reliable evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority of the proposed criteria. We are therefore suggesting that the parliament votes separately on the endocrine disruption criteria in order to achieve more scientifically rigorous wording.”