SNP MEP Slams "Sledgehammer" Pesticide Vote

12 September 2007
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agricultural Committee SNP MEP Mr Alyn Smith today (Tuesday) slammed the outcome of a vote in the Parliament's Environment committee which if adopted by the full Parliament in plenary will result in unworkable and unjustified controls on the use of pesticides by farmers.

Mr Smith has committed himself to fight the proposals when they come before the full Parliament and to present alternative proposals based on best practice in Scotland as a compromise.

Speaking in Brussels Mr Smith said:

"Nobody would argue that pesticide use should not be regulated, but the package accepted today by the Environment committee is unworkable and unjustified. It owes more to dogma than common sense.

"We in Scotland have higher standards than most EU countries, and I will be working with the Farming Unions to put forward details of how things work in Scotland which I believe can form the basis of a compromise.

"This vote in the Environment Committee is in no way binding upon the Parliament as a whole and this dossier will now go forward to the plenary meeting in October. We have plenty of time to win the argument, to put down suitable amendments and ensure that this dossier when eventually passed is workable and helps farmers rather than hinders them."

Mr Smith has agreed with the NFU office in Brussels to work on and present to MEPs details on the voluntary pesticide rules in force in Scotland. The Scottish rules are considered workable and effective in cutting pesticide use. The proposals voted upon this morning by the environment committee go much further in terms of imposing additional bureaucratic controls which Mr Smith and Farming Unions fear will not achieve the aims and could in fact undermine the system in Scotland which is working well.