Fresh food producers have lost a crucial EU pesticide vote that they say could result in higher food prices at retail.

MEPs voted in favour of new legislation at a plenary session in Strasbourg this week. The new rules would mean the removal of 14-23% of pesticide products from the market, Britain’s Pesticide Safety Directorate estimated.

Carrot and pea producers are known to be particularly concerned by the potential loss of vital chemicals.

The legislation now moves to the European Council for formal ratification in April, with new rules set to be enforced from late 2010 or early 2011.

However UK grower representatives have lodged an official complaint with the European ombudsman, claiming “maladministration and abuse of power” by the EC in failing to carry out an impact assessment for the proposals.

Efforts would now focus on trying to persuade the Czech presidency to undertake the assessment, said Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association.