Securing the future of key wheat insecticide

The future of a key insecticide active for controlling orange blossom midge and wheat bulb fly in the UK looks more certain following the government’s announced change in policy when assessing pesticides for safety.

The Chemical Regulations Directorate, which oversees pesticide regulation, has agreed to take low-drift nozzle use into account when assessing and approving pesticides.

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Chlorpyrifos is one of the few remaining insecticides with a unique mode of action and is valuable in controlling these two pests and preventing resistance development. It is currently undergoing re-registration as part of the routine evaluation of active substances by CRD.

“This policy change means we are a step closer to securing the future use of chlorpyrifos in the UK as the low-drift nozzles help protect water bodies from spray drift, says Thomas Lyall, EMEA registration and chemical legislation leader at Dow Agrosciences.

“Without low-drift nozzles, new EU assessment criteria meant that to approve this active substance would have required buffer zones of 70m for arable cropping, which is clearly unworkable in the UK.”

However, the change means the active substance may potentially be re-registered with the new low-drift nozzles and more reasonable buffer zones of 20m for arable crops.

The change in policy is largely down to the “Say no to drift” campaign, aimed at encouraging the use of low-drift nozzles. Since early 2012, the voluntary initiative has proved that growers are prepared to use low-drift nozzles to help retain the important insecticide.

He also highlights that the CRD’s measure will also help the approval of new innovative products, not yet registered in the UK. “UK growers could access the same products approved in other EU member states, which already recognise low-drift nozzle use.”

However, this policy change only applies to horizontal boom sprayers and the “Say no to drift” campaign will continue to help orchard growers use low-drift technology and demonstrate to CRD that the policy should be extended to chlorpyrifos applications in the orchard sector.