07 April 1994 00:00 [Source: ICB]
APOCALYPTIC WARNINGS on the future of European agriculture were made by the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) following its participation in a DGXI workshop on sustainable use of pesticides.
The workshop, held in Brussels on 14-15 June, was the first step towards deciding whether to follow the example of Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands to set up a pesticide-use reduction programme.
After the workshop ECPA director general Dino Vlahodimos told ECN: 'If the views of the environmentalists prevail with their emotional and unscientific arguments, European agriculture will be very severely hit.'
Peter Beaumont, director of The Pesticides Trust, said industry's position at the meeting had been to state there are no adverse environmental effects from pesticides. 'This produced a sharp intake of breath from everyone in the room,' he said, 'including civil servants.'
Environmental groups claim European agriculture is unsustainable and using less pesticides is one requirement to change this. Vlahodimos disagrees: 'There is no evidence that European agriculture is not sustainable at the moment,' he said. 'Better training is required for farmers so they can keep abreast of changes in technology.'
A pan-European pesticide programme is impractical, said Vlahodimos, because risk varies according to local conditions. However, Beaumont said the existing Crop Protection directive sets a clear precedent for such legislation while flexible legislation could leave room for the consideration of local conditions.
The Pesticides Trust is calling for the mandatory training of pesticide operators. This already exists in the UK, said Beaumont, but not in countries like France and Spain. The use of pesticides classified as Class 1 under the World Health Organisation's system should be questioned and, if necessary, restricted.
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