Warning over loss of mancozeb for late blight in potatoes

A Norfolk farmer has warned of the serious effect the potential loss of the fungicide mancozeb will have on late control of blight in potato crops.

Tony Bambridge, a sugar beet and potato grower, said spud growers in Denmark had seen an “absolute disaster” after losing access to the fungicide.

Speaking at this week’s NFU Council meeting in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, Mr Bambridge said the effect of losing mancozeb in the UK could be even worse.

See also: Why late blight management just got more complicated for 2024

“We live in a maritime climate where blight is incredibly dangerous to us as potato growers,” he told the meeting.

“I really hope we are looking to do everything we can to try to save mancozeb.

“I understand that when you look at it from a hazard perspective, it is difficult to protect. But from a risk-based perspective to mitigate, it is perfectly safe.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has carried out a review of mancozeb and it has proposed that the approval of the active substance in Great Britain is withdrawn.

The review considered the evidence for continuing approval of mancozeb, including supporting data submitted by UPL Europe and Indofil Industries (Netherlands) BV (being the EU Mancozeb task force).

Licence expiry

The licence for mancozeb’s use in Great Britain is due to expire on 31 January 2024, but it is likely it will be extended for an interim period of three months.

Mr Bambridge, who is a specialist seed potato grower and is managing director of farm contractors B&C Farming, based in Marsham, north Norfolk, said the NFU should consider applying to the HSE for a derogation for the continued use of mancozeb for late blight control on potato crops.

“We are supposed to have taken back control of our borders and so on and so forth, and I really think we should be pushing for a derogation,” he told NFU Council delegates.

The EU withdrew the approval of mancozeb in January 2021 after the European Food Safety Authority classified it as an endocrine disruptor and harmful to reproduction.

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