Supermarkets stand accused of adopting an over-zealous approach to plant protection standards, which threatens production levels.
This is being driven by ill-informed and unrealistic consumer expectations with regard to pesticides, said food industry consultant Terry Tooby of JSC International.
Tooby told delegates at a Rothamsted Research conference on Pesticides and the Food Chain that there was an urgent need to develop more mutual understanding about the role of pesticides.
He said pesticide companies should work closely with retailers and processors to explain the need for crop protection in sustaining the production of food.
He argued that EU rules provided more than sufficient safeguards for human and animal health and the environment, without the need for supermarkets to impose even tougher standards.This applied particularly to rules governing Maximum Residue Limits on pesticides in foodstuffs.
But supermarkets continued to respond to consumers who demanded residue-free produce and did not understand production difficulties related to this.
Without plant protection products, wheat and potato production could fall by between 34% and 41%, said Tooby.
Vic Robertson