A qualified majority of EU Member States have endorsed an EC proposal not to renew approval of active substance, thiacloprid, based on a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conclusion.
NFU senior regulatory affairs adviser Chris Hartfield, said: “This valuable insecticide is used in fruit and vegetable production and has been used this season under an emergency authorisation to help control aphids and the viruses they vector in sugar beet.
“We recognise that EFSA’s assessment raised several critical concerns and, considering the emergency use situation on sugar beet, we would ask that the Commission provides an adequate grace period for the products currently on the market, and for the UK to follow the maximum grace period, while alternative aphid controls are sought.”
For the 2019 season, sugar beet growers were able to use thiacloprid under an emergency authorisation which allowed up to two applications for control of potentially virus-carrying green aphids, particularly Myzus persicae.
It is disappointing this is unlikely to be an option for the 2020 season, says British Beet Research Organisation’s Dr Mark Stevens.
While a hard winter could adversely impact on aphid populations, a mild winter could favour them, he says. “We are in various discussions to see whether we can find an alternative. Only one application of [insecticide] Teppeki is approved for sugar beet. This season some growers needed up to three insecticide sprays.”
Dr Stevens fears that with neonicotinoid seed treatments no longer available for sugar beet, aphid populations could rise. “There could potentially be greater aphid pressure. We need more tools to control it, not fewer.”
Bayer, which manufactures thiacloprid-containing product Biscaya, issued a statement in response to the announcement. "Bayer respects the decision of EU Member States regarding the non-reapproval of thiacloprid.
"The company continues to believe that thiacloprid-based crop protection products can be used safely when appropriate risk mitigation measures are applied.
"Thiacloprid-based crop protection products are an important tool for farmers across the European Union, and especially for minor crops. This has been shown through the review of more than 500 pest/crop combinations by the European Food Safety Authority. Bayer considers that extensive evidence has been provided, and assessed, to demonstrate the phytosanitary need for numerous uses of thiacloprid products across Europe. Sixteen Member States confirmed that without thiacloprid insufficient chemical alternatives remain available for numerous crop/pest combinations."
Sell by and use up dates for products containing thiacloprid are yet to be confirmed.