NFU calls for a transparent process as emergency use application is refused

The NFU is deeply frustrated with the process to consider its applications for emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatment in the UK

The NFU understands that the Chemical Regulatory Directive (CRD), which is part of HSE, and the Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) made their decisions in May to not recommend approval based on the application not being sufficiently limited or controlled. It has taken over a month of confusion for the NFU to get this confirmed, despite the obvious urgency. The process as a whole has been described as painful and prolonged by the NFU, and has prompted it to call for a more transparent process as it deliberates a second application.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “It is extremely disappointing that we have received a refusal to what we consider to be a thorough and robust application; we submitted extensive evidence to support the need for emergency use, which the ECP were convinced by, and we believe that we made a very sound case for our application to be ‘limited’ and ‘controlled’ to the areas which are in need of it, as required.

“We have found the application process to be obscure, inconsistent and confusing; the NFU was not given full information in good time to provide responses to regulators’ questions, interpretation of legislation appeared to have changed and the NFU was left in the dark by Government until the last minute. All of this despite clear agreement of the need for these crop protection products by farmers.”

NFU combinable crops chairman Mike Hambly explained: “AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds estimated 60,000 hectares either haven’t been planted or have been lost due to the unavailability of the products in 2014. The UK needs oil and protein meal from these crops and this is a loss that is simply not sustainable for the farming sector or the wider economy, and it is why the regulatory process to allow emergency use is so vital for farmers.

“Farmers in Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria have been successful in securing emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments and will benefit accordingly. Meanwhile, farmers in the UK will be forced to rely on older, less effective products which will require repeat applications of foliar insecticides that are less targeted. It’s taking many steps back agronomically and will lead to further resistance in pests; however, it’s the only option farmers have to protect their crop and investment.”

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