Minister pledges to consider emergency use of neonics

Farm minister George Eustice says Defra will consider an emergency application for growers to use neonicotinoid seed treatments this autumn.

The NFU has been working with pesticide manufacturers on the request, arguing that farmers face the threat of heavy losses from cabbage stem flea beetle unless an exemption is granted to the EU-imposed ban on neonicotinoid treatments.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Mr Eustice said he understand the NFU was working on an application with Syngenta.

“When that application is received, we will look at it. But we would need to assess quite carefully what they are coming forward with.”

Mr Eustice said he wanted to take an evidence-based, balanced approach towards pesticides that looked at overall risk, not just the existence of hazard.

The European Union approach could sometimes be too precautionary, he suggested.

“There is a danger that if you remove too many products, there is a danger that you encourage an over reliance on the products that remain – and that can lead to problems with resistance and the efficacy of the products you’ve got left.”