Growers and the wider arable industry have a short window of opportunity to help influence the Government’s position on neonicotinoids ahead of discussions in the EU on the class’s future as a seed treatment, speakers at a Bayer-organised Cereals 2017 press briefing said.
In March of this year, the European Commission tabled new proposals that would ban the use of certain neonicotinoid seed treatments in non-bee-attractive crops such as wheat, barley, sugar beet and vegetables. The proposals are due to be discussed at the July meeting of the Standing Committee of Plants Animals, Food and Feed in Brussels.
Michael Muncey, head of business for Bayer Crop Science in the UK, said: “It is important that the new UK Government takes a much more proactive line in opposing these proposals that will seriously affect the ability of many cereals, sugar beet and vegetable growers’ ability to produce high quality, affordable food. It cannot be right that farmers will have to resort to spraying broad spectrum insecticides to control aphids, or drastically increase the use of slug pellets when there is a perfectly good and environmentally safe approach in the form of a seed treatment.”
Claire Matthewman, Bayer’s seed treatment campaign manager, explained that growers could help fight these proposals in three ways: “Firstly, we are asking growers who use seed treatments to continue to be extra careful about how they drill their seed – let’s continue to demonstrate to the Government and the regulators how well we can steward the use of these products.
“Secondly, we are encouraging farmers, growers, contractors, agronomists and everyone else in the food supply chain to consider writing to their local MP and MEP, as well as Government Ministers to explain why seed treatments are important to them.
“And thirdly, we are asking them to engage on social media using the #SaveOurSeedTreatments hashtag so that as many people as possible become aware of the positive impact that seed treatments have as tools to help them grow safe, high quality affordable food here in the UK.”
#SaveOurSeedTreatments campaign area on its website at http://cropscience.bayer.co.uk/about-us/save-our-seed-treatments/act-now/, which includes details about how to contact your local MP/MEP and suggestions for what type of information to include in any letter.
It also includes loads of tips around stewardship – documents to download with drilling advice and key stewardship essentials, such as how to avoid dust and clear up spills. “In addition, we will have 200 free spill kits to give away to growers,” added Mrs Matthewman. “Just simply register interest via the website.”