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From the editor: The EU's pesticide regime feels badly out of touch

Does the EU want to feed a booming global population, or does it want to wrap its farmers in restrictive regulations, which prevent them from stepping up to the productivity challenge?


Ben   Briggs

Ben   Briggs

With the decision to ban chlorothalonil it would appear to be the latter.

 

Brexit might offer the chance to reverse such decisions, but it is unclear whether that would occur in the short-term as the stance would be to transfer over existing legislation from EU to UK law, at the outset at least.

 

The latest attacks on pesticides will come as a severe blow to UK farmers seeking to battle septoria in wheat and ramularia in barley, with the latter sparking real concern a greater prevalence of the disease could undermine Scotland’s whisky exports.

 

And while the commercial implications are stark, so too are the wider fears about trying to feed a growing population with fewer weapons in the cereal disease armoury.

 

The growth of the human population over the past 175 years has been staggering, rising from less than 1.2 billion in 1844 when Farmers Guardian’s predecessor was first published, to more than seven billion today. However, that growth has been matched by ingenuity and innovation in agriculture, which has meant farmers have been able to keep pace and feed ever more mouths.


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Yet the EU, with its latest decision, once again leaves itself open to jibes from the likes of US ambassador to London, Woody Johnson, who recently described Europe as a ‘museum of agriculture’.

 

While his barbed comments may have been to guard his own country’s use of GM crops, chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef, it is hard to argue that the EU’s regulatory regime is doing nothing other than distancing farmers from existing and emerging agricultural innovations.

 

As this week’s edition of Farmers Guardian has shown, the only constant throughout our history as a publication has been change. And that is why today’s farmers should be given a regulatory platform, which allows them to prosper in the present, rather than stranding them in the past.

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