The potential for massive losses of pesticides and increasingly restricted use through proposed EU legislation have brought together all sectors of the horticulture industry.
Accelerated lobbying is now fundamental before MEPs carry out a final vote on the EU Thematic Strategy on Pesticides - expected to take place in less than two months.
In a special report on the EU's pesticide proposals, industry representatives have told Horticulture Week that thanks to the significant minority of MEPs who rejected a series of more stringent amendments, there is every chance that the proposals could be voted out in the final vote (see pp6-7).
"We are taking (the large minority against) as a positive sign," said NFU plant health adviser Paul Chambers.
HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe added: "We have seen a shift and that wouldn't have happened without lobbying."
All industry representatives are now urging horticulture professionals to write to their regional MEPs in one last push before the final vote.
Fresh Produce Consortium chief executive Nigel Jenney reiterated warnings that crops such as brassicas could prove too uneconomic to produce in the UK under the proposed rules.
Briercliffe said: "Although the European Parliament has shifted slightly on some issues, the major concerns for the horticulture industry have not been addressed.
"These issues are substitution, the technical criteria for registration and the overriding need for an impact assessment. Without addressing these amendments the legislation will have a highly detrimental effect."
Changes to the Plant Protection Products Regulations that will replace Directive 91/414/EEC could mean stricter controls on pesticide use in UK horticulture. In addition, the Sustainable Use Directive will impact on the amenity sector.
Crop Protection Association amenity committee chairman Mark Phillips said the combination of the legislation "leaves very little for the professional user" but added the lobbying process was ongoing. "MEPs still have the vote," he said.
HTA consultant John Adlam is preparing an impact report - expected to be released today (14 November) - that will outline the range of products lost.
"Several garden plants would be extremely difficult to grow with the quality and flourish we have been used to," he said.
"There will be no fungicides to use against black spot and powdery mildew on roses, and everyone will have weedy lawns."
An impact assessment from the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) revealed that 85 per cent of chemicals could be lost as a result of the legislation.
Despite calls from British MEPs Robert Sturdy and Caroline Jackson for a further impact assessment before the draft legislation becomes law, the suggestion did not prove popular among MEPs in the Environment Committee.
But PSD environmental policy adviser Grant Stark said some of the detail in the final document to be voted on could change as a result of "behind-the-scenes trialogues" between the European Council, Commission and Parliament.
Indeed, Defra secretary Hilary Benn will next week present a paper on the impacts in conjunction with the Dutch government during a council meeting.
What to do next
Horticulture Week - For all HW's reports on the EU pesticides proposals visit the "Big Issues" section within the "Resources" area of the HW website or go to www.hortweek.com/resources/BigIssues/EUpesticides.
HTA - For briefing documents for MEPs, points to raise with MEPs, how to find your MEP and a template letter, visit www.the-hta.org.uk and click on "EU Plant Protection Products Regulations Campaign".
NFU - For details on MEPs, background information and points to raise in letters, visit www.nfuonline.com
Amenity Forum - For more information email email@example.com or call 01959 575575.
PSD - For detailed background on the EU Thematic Strategy for Pesticides and a link to the PSD's Impact assessment, visit www.pesticides.gov.uk/environment.asp?id=198.
Source:- Horticulture Week