When Farmers Weekly presented their Save our Sprays petition to German Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer, the response they received was interesting to say the least. It will be recalled that the UK regulatory agency, the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD), has estimated that the cut-off criteria agreed by EU farm ministers in their ‘common position’ would lead to the disappearance of 15 per cent of currently available plant protection products. The European Parliament’s proposed extra criteria would place about 85 per cent under threat.

Ms Breyer said that she had major doubts about the accuracy of the PSD’s claims. They were based on incorrect definitions and were designed to create panic, she said. ‘The figures are absurd.’ In my personal view as an academic, I believe the PSD is staffed by serious minded civil servants who pride themselves in their professionalism as scientific regulators. They are always very cautious in their use of language.

The PSD insisted that its findings were robust and based on the best available information at the time of the study. Assessments in other member states has received very similar conclusions.

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