Crops farm farming

Food production in the UK could be severely hit by EU restrictions on pesticides

British production of apples, fresh carrots and frozen peas are under threat because of EU restrictions on the use of pest and weed control substances, a new report has claimed.

The Healthy Harvest report (PDF) – compiled by farm business consultants Andersons and commissioned by the NFU, the Crop Protection Association and the Agricultural Industries Confederation – identified plant protection products (PPPs) with a “high” likelihood of being restricted or not gaining re-authorisation for use. It claimed the loss of these substances could reduce agriculture’s contribution to the UK economy by £1.6bn and put thousands of jobs at risk.

The report also suggested the UK’s farming profit would drop by 36% from current levels, resulting in structural readjustment in the farming industry.

Crop Protection Association CEO Nick von Westenholz said the report “provides a clear picture of the implications of the flawed system that governs pesticide use in the EU”.

“Hopefully European policy-makers will now realise how imperative it is to make a proper assessment of risk and impact when they take decisions affecting food production,” he added.

The NFU described the report as “important and timely”.

“It confirmed and added clarity to the negative impacts that losses and restrictions on PPPs would have on UK food production, on farms and throughout the supply chain,” added NFU vice president Guy Smith.

But the report has come under fire from Friends of the Earth, which declared it “dangerously misleading”.

“Instead of attacking regulations in place to protect our health and wildlife, we should all focus on finding alternatives to chemicals,” said FoE nature campaigner Paul de Zylva. “The evidence is overwhelming that intensive use of chemicals is harming bees and other wildlife and the quality of our water and soils.”