EU member states recently voted to restrict the sowing of seed treated with fungicide metalaxyl-M to glasshouses, meaning it will be lost as a seed treatment to sugar beet growers in just over a year’s time.
Syngenta markets products containing metalaxyl-M and its UK head of technical David King explains the impact of the decision.
“The restrictions do not impact foliar applications of metalaxyl-M, but will only affect seed treatments.
“Seed treatment products affected are Apron XL, Wakil XL and Vibrance SB. The restrictions apply in the EU from June 1, 2021 [use up date].”
Mr King says while he expects this date will still apply post the Brexit transition period, should regulations allow, the company could look to reapply to CRD for approval for the product to be used as a seed treatment in the UK in future without the restrictions.
He highlights that there are no restrictions on sedaxane so the only products affected are those that contain metalaxyl-M. “Therefore the only sedaxane product affected is Vibrance SB.”
The restriction of seed treatments containing metalaxyl-M to glasshouse use only was requested following an EU re-registration process, says Mr King. “This registration process demands increasing ecotoxicology hurdles. Over time, these hurdles make it increasingly difficult to maintain registrations and uses of many valuable active ingredients across the crop protection industry. Metalaxyl-M is no exception in this respect.
“We are disappointed growers of vegetable crops and sugar beet will miss out on the benefits that products containing this valuable active bring. It will not affect cereal crops because metalaxyl-M is not used on these crops.”
Prof Mark Stevens, head of science at BBRO says metalaxyl-M is used to prevent seedling diseases, with activity against pithium. “Before metalaxyl-M, growers were used to using thiram [now banned]. They then moved to Vibrance so [crops] have not been exposed to pithium. At the moment it is difficult to quantify the risk. It is another example of losing a plant protection product the sugar beet industry relies on.”
Syngenta had plans to register a three-way seed treatment (sedaxane, fludioxonil and metalaxyl-M) for control of rhizoctonia in oilseed rape this year.
Mr King says: “We will be very interested to explore registration opportunities that may exist post the Brexit transition period including those involving metalaxyl-M seed treatments.
“Other future development of products will depend on the regulatory environment we face post Brexit.”