Mixed reception for ‘Healthy Harvest’ report

A new report released by farm business consultants Andersons has warned that the availability of iconic British foods could drop drastically in future.

The report, commissioned by the NFU, the AIC and the CPA, studied the economic impact of plant protection products (PPPs) on UK agriculture. It found that the production of British staples such as apples, carrots and peas are under threat due to loss or restricted use of active ingredients in PPPs.

Up to 44,000 jobs in agricultural wholesale, the supply chain and the wider food and drink industry could be lost if these ingredients were no longer available, and the UK’s farming profit would be expected to drop by 36 per cent.

NFU vice president, Guy Smith says, “We have been warning that in the lifetime of the current European Parliament, we would face significant threats to PPPs. This important and timely report has confirmed and added clarity to the negative impacts that losses and restrictions on PPPs would have on UK food production, on farm and throughout the supply chain.

“It is absolutely essential that farmers have regulation that is risk-based and that it follows sound science to ensure the farming sector keeps growing and contributing to the £97billion UK food and drink industry. For this to happen we need government at both UK and EU level to put British food production at the heart of policy-making across all government departments.”

However, Friends of the Earth has dismissed the Healthy Harvest report as ‘dangerously misleading’, claiming that it lacks ‘any credible, independent and peer reviewed science.’

Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth’s nature campaigner says, “Instead of attacking regulations in place to protect our health and wildlife, we should all focus on finding alternatives to chemicals. The evidence is overwhelming that intensive use of chemicals is harming bees and other wildlife and the quality of our water and soils. That’s the real threat to our food security.

“Some ‘neonic’ chemicals are currently banned because top British and European scientists found they pose a ‘high acute risk’ to bees. That’s the kind of good evidence-based science the NFU and others should be backing.

“On average UK fields are treated with over 20 different chemicals each year. It is not that there are too few chemicals available to use but that there are probably too many. If the NFU, the Government and pesticides industry have done proper tests for the combined effect this cocktail of chemicals is having, I have yet to see them.”

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