EU pesticide ban will raise food prices without improving health, says former government scientist
IPN Press release
Professor Sir Colin Berry, Emeritus Professor of Pathology at Queen Mary College, University of London, has heavily criticized the proposed EU legislation on chemical use in farming. The regulations could outlaw up to 85% of pesticides currently used by farmers. At a time when the average family is struggling to cope with high food and fuel prices, this could cut British crop yields anywhere between 25 and 50%, and cause the price of some staple foods to double.*
In a statement today, Prof. Berry said:
“The costs of implementing this legislation will be high – crop yields will fall, food prices will rise, more land will have to be farmed and fewer habitats conserved. But it is hard to imagine what the benefits will be.
The idea of chemical-free farming is absurd and dangerous.
This legislation will not improve human health – the European Parliament’s document in support of the legislation is simply an apologia for a position, not a scientific review.”
The proposal will see the EU go from a risk-based assessment of chemicals to a hazard-based one: if the same principle were applied to the wider world, this would lead us to ban anything from bleach to coffee – even water.
The legislation has also failed to consider the danger of not using these pesticides. A ban on 85 per cent of plant protection products would “ultimately render conventional agriculture as it is currently practised unachievable,” according to the UK’s Pesticide Safety Directorate.
* The UK’s Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) estimated last May that: “PSD's assessment considered the impact of the Parliament's first reading report and concluded that, if all their amendments were incorporated into the final Regulation, they would result in the withdrawal of up to 85% of active substances and ultimately render conventional agriculture as it is currently practised unachievable.” Study available here
* A study by Sean Rickard from Cranfield University calculated that if 85% of substances were banned, the farm-gate price of cereals, potatoes and vegetable brassicas would double – and force many farmers out of business. Study available here
* DEFRA stated in July that, without a proper assessment, “the EU risks taking measures which would have significant adverse impacts on crop protection but secure no significant health benefits for consumers.”
Notes to Editors
The EU Commission has proposed the “Regulation concerning the placement of plant protection products on the market”, with EU agricultural ministers reaching a “Common Position” on the legislation last June. If the Commission’s proposals are adopted, up to 15% of approved substances could be banned, leading to 20-30% yield losses in cereals. The European Parliament introduced even more bans after its First Reading – which could see up to 85% of products banned with “major impacts on crop yield and food quality” and the destruction of British agriculture (PSD study). The legislation is currently with the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, and will then go to the European Parliament floor for a Second Reading, probably in November.