Risk-based approach must be taken on endocrine disruptors

NFU suggests farm profitability could be hit if 'precautionary' measures are implemented

NFU vice president Guy Smith
NFU vice president Guy Smith

Failure to ensure a risk-based approach is taken on endocrine disruptors would have a major financial impact on farmers, the NFU has said.

As part of the organisation’s response to the European Commission’s consultation on the matter, it suggested the wrong approach could even jeopardise the stability of farm businesses.

NFU vice president Guy Smith said: “The fact that the European Commission had a consultation as part of the ED review was a win for the NFU, complemented by the number of growers we rallied together to respond to it.

“We supported members and the wider farming community in their individual consultation responses as part of a different approach to our lobbying – as the green lobby assembles their troops through social media, our tactics must evolve and stay competitive to ensure we have impact with policy-makers.”

The NFU’s response to the ED consultation included five main arguments:

* Plant Protection Product (PPP) regulation should be based on sound evidence and an active should only be identified as an ED following a full assessment of the risk it presents;

* Current regulation of EDs is already too focused on hazard, as demonstrated by the findings of the Andersons report, which highlighted the scenario of product loss without any further restriction;

* The work of AHDB demonstrates that a precautionary approach to Endocrine Disruption will be extremely damaging for UK farmers’ and growers’ productivity. By extension, European farming as a whole would be hit, with the AHDB report suggesting a worst case scenario would involve £3bn per year being wiped off farm-gate profitability;

* PPPs should be aligned with Biocides regulation, ensuring a proper consideration of the socioeconomic impacts of losing important PPP. Opportunities for using risk mitigation measures should also be considered before removing a product;

* Failure to ensure a proportionate risk-based approach on ED will result in significant financial impact for NFU members and will jeopardise farm businesses, undermine resistance management and result in increased requirements for imported food.

Mr Smith continued: “The NFU is keeping a close eye on the development of the ED definitions review.

“If a more precautionary approach is taken we could lose up to a quarter of our active ingredients used in UK PPPs1, which would significantly limit the ability of UK farmers to grow affordable wholesome food.

“Such regulation plays straight into the hands of our competitors abroad who would take advantage from working in a more farmer-friendly regulatory regime.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer