NFU seeks neonics exemption for winter OSR

The NFU has applied for emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments in autumn 2016 for areas with high levels of cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB). 

The application is targeted to the fields at greatest risk from CSFB, and covers the neonicotinoids thiamethoxam (Cruiser OSR) and clothianidin (Modesto). The Expert Committee on Pesticides discussed the NFU’s application on May 4th.   

Guy Smith, NFU vice president, said: “We know farmers facing pest pressure are in grave need of access to an effective way of preventing CSFB from destroying valuable oilseed rape crops. This is why the NFU has put in this application for the targeted emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. 

“CSFB numbers have seen a dramatic increase since restrictions were imposed on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments by the European Commission, according to research published by FERA. The CSFB threat cannot be effectively addressed by any other means of pest control. Without access to these insecticides, farm businesses are unsustainable; farmers must be able to produce healthy and profitable crops. 

“The damage caused by CSFB has contributed to a reduced oilseed rape area in England, estimated to be around 14% lower for the 2015–16 crop. The neonicotinoid seed treatments are effective in reducing the damage caused by the pest CSFB and prevent the destruction of a crop that is economically and environmentally important for farmers. 

“With emergency use of neonicotinoids granted in eight countries across the EU in 2015, we are conscious that British farmers will be operating at a disadvantage without access to this important insecticide.” 

“As the resilience of food production becomes more important than ever, it is vital that regulation of plant protection products is based on sound science and evidence. The decreasing availability of these products is hampering British farmers’ ability to produce the wholesome and affordable British food that shoppers in this country expect.”