The NFU has issued a warning about the unintended consequences of taking insecticides off the market as France became the first country in Europe to ban all five neonicotinoids.
In April this year, the EU introduced a ban on outdoor use of three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – which will come into effect on December 19.
The new French move goes further still, banning their use in greenhouses as well as outdoors and covering thiacloprid and acetamiprid too.
Environmentalists have welcomed the ban, but French farming union FNSEA has joined forces with six other groups to warn ‘producers need solutions before any prohibitions’.
In a statement, the coalition said: “Once again, these decisions, not accompanied by substitution proposals, will accentuate the distortions of competition with European and non-European producers.
“Does France want to sacrifice production which creates value, holds our territories and generates a great many jobs for the benefit of imports?”
This concern about replacing domestic production with imports from countries where neonicotinoids are still used was echoed by NFU deputy president Guy Smith.
He said: “This week we are getting reports in from many members about significant flea beetle pressure in emerging rape crops, with growers already writing crops off. With lack of rain, it looks like 2018 could turn into a bad year for flea beetle damage.
“This really brings home the importance of insecticides when it comes to growing healthy crops, but what it also reminds us is that one key result of the EU-UK neonicotinoid ban is it simply sucks in more protein imports from parts of the world such as North and South America, where there is no political appetite to ban neonics.
“It is the economics of the mad-house.”