ADAS has delivered a stark warning about the possible consequences of changes in pesticide regulations now being discussed by the European Union. James Clarke of ADAS has concluded that the potential impact on prices of the Commission proposals would be that farmers would need a 25 per cent increase in prices to make up for lost production if they were to maintain their margins. This rises to over 100 per cent for the European Parliament proposals. Given potential price rises crops such as brassicas would be uneconomic to grow in the UK.

Even the lowest impact proposal (Commission exclusion) would reduce production by approximately 25%. Parliament substitution has the most severe impact with all crops seeing reductions in production of at least 53%. However, this proposal would lead to some crops becoming uneconomic to grow, leading to substantial restructuring of the industry which would require further quantification.

In all cases, a significant increase in crop areas would be required to make up the shortfall in production. Such land is beyond that readily available through changes to cropping patterns. A key issue to be addressed will be to determine appropriate strategies to minimise the development of pesticide resistance.

The driving effect is different on individual crops, although very often is a result of lower levels of disease control. On wheat, loss of weed control also has a major effect, while on vegetable brassicas, lack of pest control becomes a major concern under the two Parliament proposals.

ADAS concludes that there will need to be a full understanding throughout the food chain of the impact of these proposals on fresh food quality, continuity of supply and seasonality.

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