Tuesday, 21 October 2014

'Plant Protection Products' Debate

The report published by Andersons today,   'The Effect of the Loss of Plant Protection Products on UK Agriculture and Horticulture and the Wider Economy' is a thorough study exploring some of the issues facing farmers and growers. The report was commissioned by the National Farmers Union, Crop Protection Association and the Agricultural Industries Confederation. It illustrates a number of conundrums, dilemmas and challenges faced by UK and European agriculture.

The issue
The changing regulation of plant protection products from a risk based system to hazard based, reduces the chemistry available to growers. It would appear that a number of other factors are influencing  the approvals and renewal process and sound science has less of an impact.
Reduction of active ingredients over  since 2000

Plant protection products, in Europe, are already among the most closely regulated in the world and have a part to play in modern food production.
  • With more restrictions on the horizon many will say the registration and renewal process that governs plant protection products is flawed. This process says most sprays are hazardous and should be restricted.
  • Less plant protection will be available to growers and this will have a negative impact on efficient food production.
  • Agricultural investment and innovation will be stifled in over regulated European economies driving investment to other parts of the world.
Some commentators have stated that such an 'evolving regulation system' offers a high level of protection for human and animal health. It is the 'intensive use of pesticides that is undermining our ecosystems' and support for this report is 'scaremongering' and 'crying wolf'.

The challenges
We need to pay more attention to the planets growing population - as a species we continually ignore unsustainable population growth and the pressure it places on the world's limited resources. This human expansion, increases the need for more efficient food production. This is also an issue in England, as shown below.

We recognise the need to develop food production systems that impact less on our soils, water and air whilst still producing sufficient food. Such systems are advocated by LEAF's Integrated Farm Management and our own 'Allerton Approach'. Remember growing food under any system will impact on the environment. Our own government also have a responsibility to keep a productive and competitive UK agricultural sector, growing food from our fields for our consumers. Increasing imported food also has an environmental footprint.

So let's advocate risk based approach to plant protection product regulation, based on sound science. Encourage technology and investment in our agricultural sector. We also need to make sure the increase in British food production and productivity is at the centre of UK policy and that view is represented within Europe.
Recent trends would suggest a yield plateau, the reasons are numerous and a subject for discussion on their own.

The Allerton Project  will continue to embrace both cultural, organic, science and technology in pursuit of a sustainable crop production systems. As vice chairman of our NFU County Group, I'm proud to support the efforts of UK farmers to produce safe and affordable food.

The elephant in the room of 'population growth',... who would like to continue that debate?


No comments:

Post a Comment