Pesticides Battle Nears its Conclusion

08 January 2009
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) called on fellow MEPs to support amendments that he and his colleagues have put down on the proposed pesticides package.

Mr Smith made this call whilst on a visit to the Scotherbs headquarters outside Dundee. Scotherbs employs over 120 staff and is one of the top four herb producers in the UK.

Proposals currently under discussion in the European Parliament could see many plant protection products withdrawn from the market, and Mr Smith fears that there are inadequate replacements available. The MEP has consistently pressed the European Commission to carry out a full economic impact assessment as the initial assessment is now almost two years old. The proposals come before the full Parliament next week.

Smith said:

"I call on my colleagues to give serious thought to the impact that this proposed pesticides package will have on Scottish agriculture. I am not convinced that sufficient attention has been paid to the consequences that it would have on farming in the more northerly, wetter climates of the EU. While our tabled amendments aim to redress this, if these fail to gain the support of the full Parliament then, on balance, this package must be defeated.

"Our food production is too important to jeopardise for a dossier that is at times more theological than scientific. Yes, the chemicals industry should be forced to innovate towards cheaper and safer products, but there has to be a balance and the legislation we pass in this Chamber must be workable. This package, as it stands, is not.

"I am deeply concerned that the development of alternative products to replace those that this legislation proposes to ban is not yet far enough advanced to avoid very serious consequences for food production within the EU. To make farming more expensive at a time of rising input costs bodes ill for food security, as well as for those who work in the agricultural sector across Europe.

"It is also likely to have the perverse effect of making EU food more expensive, with some farms shutting down altogether, and we will find ourselves importing food from outside the EU, odds-on this will have been treated with the very pesticides we banned.

"This package has demonstrated, very clearly, that some matters cannot be dealt with by Parliament, any parliament, as the issues involved are too technical and too complex. If our amendments do not get sufficient support to pass then I call upon all my colleagues in the Parliament to reject these reports in full."