UK Permits Emergency Use of Neonicotinoids

The National Farmers Union, the UK agricultural association, has secured the emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments, which were approved after the pest cabbage stem flea beetle damaged 5% of the oilseed rape crop in England across 30,000 hectares.

NFU said the products that farmers will be able to access include Modesto from Bayer CropScience and Cruiser OSR from Syngenta. The emergency use has been granted for 120 days. Discussions on the logistics of distributing the seed are underway.

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Neonicotinoids have been banned in Europe since late 2013 in the wake of controversy over the pesticides’ alleged link to the unintended death of bees. Faced with a lack of tools to prevent infestations, Europe’s harvest of rapeseed could fall as much as 15% according to some projections.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “The NFU has worked relentlessly to submit a robust application and we’re glad to finally see a positive result. However, we know that this isn’t enough – flea beetle threat is widespread problem on a national scale and the extremely limited nature of this authorization is unfortunately not going to help the vast majority of farmers in need of the protection.

“We will ensure that this approval is made the most of, both logistically and through the detailed monitoring of the crop for useful data. We will also call on UK Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to contribute to solutions for the many farmers whose crops are significantly threatened by flea beetle but will not have access to these products.”

Mike Hambly, NFU combinable crops board chairman , said: “The principle of this authorization is the point we need to focus on; the government has recognized the problem and has given a restricted number of farmers a solution, which is better than no solution at all.

“However, many farmers who are persevering with oilseed rape will have already committed to seed orders and the possibilities of getting appropriately dressed seed across a range of varieties available is verging on impossible.

“We will now look to work with the regulators towards more efficient authorizations after the arduous process we have been through to get to this point.”