Anthea McIntyre MEP, Conservative agriculture spokesman, has spoken out against a report on pesticides which she says misrepresents the findings of the European Parliament's own researchers and seeks to undermine public trust in much-needed plant protection products.

Miss Mcintyre delivered a scathing criticism of the report which has been drawn up the parliament's Environment Committee when it was debated at Strasbourg's plenary sitting of the house.

She told the Parliament: “It is very important that we have a science based, evidence based approval process...and we do! This is a very rigorous process.”

The negative report is authored by Czech Socialist MEP Pavel Poc and purports to assess how effectively the European Union's most recent Regulation on Plant Protection Products (PPPs) has been implemented since it came into force seven years ago.

However, Miss McIntyre sees it as part of a wider campaign by the Left and ecological extremists to create a climate of fear over PPPs and to erode public confidence in the safety of the authorisation process.

Mr Poc asserts that practical implementation of the regulation does not deliver complete assurance over protection over public health in its three main areas - approvals, authorisations or enforcement.

Miss McIntyre says the report misrepresents the findings of a 588-page study ran up by the European Parliament Research Service to provide detailed analysis for the report.

In particular, it misleadingly notes that the precautionary principle is not being followed in the approval of pesticides, that there is increasing use of emergency authorisations (which are occasionally needed by niche growers), and that national inspection authorities are chronically understaffed.

The report comes as as a Special Committee on Pesticides, set up at the insistence of Green and Socialist MEPs, begins to consider its own recommendations on the authorisation or PPS following a lengthy deadlock over the re-licensing of the popular weedkiller glyphosate.

Miss McIntyre told MEPs:  “It is simply not true to say that the precautionary principle is clearly not being applied in the context of risk analysis and pesticides. No doubt there are problems with the implementation in member states, but the answer is not new regulation.

“We need to enforce the regulation we have and a part of that is the possibility of emergency uses.

“This is  not national governments flouting the regulation, it is national governments responding to the specific needs of their farmers and their agriculture.”

A West Midlands farmer was in Brussels this week to take his message about safe use of pesticides directly to lawmakers in the European Parliament.

John Chinn's business Cobrey Farms in Coughton, Ross on Wye, is Britain's biggest asparagus producer. 

He addressed the parliament's Special Committee on Pesticides at the invitation of West Midlands Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre.

Mr Chinn, who also grows berries, beans and other crops, spoke about the work of the Centre for Crop Health and Protection, one of four agri-tech innovation centres set up by UK Government, which he chairs.

He warned MEPs that the world population of 7.6 billion people would reach 10 billion by 2050, and the great challenge of the 21st century was to produce more food from the same area while protecting biodiversity.

He said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the European Crop Protection Association estimated that without crop protection tools farmers could lose 80 per cent of their harvests to damaging insects, weeds and plant diseases. 

However, he outlined how developments such as targeted chemistry, use of biological control agents, targeted application technologies and progress in plant breeding and genetics could combine to ensure the production of safe, healthy, nutritious, affordable food with ever better care for the environment.

He described the EU approval process for plant protection products as one of the most stringent in the world and said it took over 11 years, an average of 200 scientific studies and more than 250 million euros to bring a product to the EU market. 

And he warned MEPs: "Rigorous testing and application protocols are very effective in protecting the public and the environment. However little attention has been given to its other aims of effectively supporting productive and competitive agriculture and horticulture.

"The fact that the regulation has just started its eighth year and it has only brought to the market the equivalent of about one new active substance per year, including low-risk substances, demonstrates the approach is failing to deliver for growers.

"For a regulation committed to help innovation and support the industry, this is a categoric failure that stifles the availability of safer, more effective and lower risk pesticides," he told the committee, set up to re-asses the way plant protection products are regulated in response to controversy over the re-licensing of the weedkiller glyphosate.

"The collection of even the very best data about pesticides (on exposures, effects, distributions or persistence) will never answer the concerns that some people have about their use, and non-rationalmyths may force social and political changes.

"Scepticism about received truths has long been a common attitude in opinion formers. EU regulators need to rise above this."

Miss McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in the parliament, said: "This committee was set up with a specific agenda to undermine trust in plant protection products - so I was determined that it would hear from a real life farmer who is also an expert in this area.

"He told the MEPs a few home truths - not only about the industry's real needs but also about very practical ways of limiting the use of products while improving the environment.

"His message about listening to science instead of myths and scaremongering was very powerful."

 

 

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in Brussels, today welcomed news that the UK government will test a new scheme for non-EU agricultural workers next year.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "This will effectively be a revival of something similar to the old seasonal workers scheme which ran until 2013, something I have been advocating for a while.

“The numbers are not sufficient to satisfy the shortage of agricultural workers and I do question why it will be limited to two agencies, but overall I am very pleased that our government has a listened to our farmers and acted on their concerns."

West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre has joined farmers and producers' groups in a "flash" event outside the European Parliament to highlight unfair trading practices by retail giants.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman, joined the action in Strasbourg ahead of key vote on proposals to deliver a fairer deal for growers and protection from bullying by major supermarket chains.

COPA COGECA, the European farmers' and co-operatives trade body, organised the event which saw tractors parked outside the parliament building with a message "#CutTheUnfair".

Miss McIntyre has played a key role in shaping EU-wide proposals put forward by the parliament's Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. They aim to protect farmers and suppliers from sharp practice including late payments and last-minute cancellation of contracts for fresh produce.

They also demand greater clarity in supply agreements.

At Miss McIntyre's recommendation, the proposals draw on the experience of the UK's Groceries Code Adjudicator, a position created in 2013 to re-evaluate the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.

After the event,  Miss McIntyre said: "We were aiming to send a clear message to any wavering MEPs that farmers and growers are not seeking special status - just respect and fairness from the businesses which ultimately depend on them.

"It would be good if this could happen everywhere without the intervention of politicians or regulation,  but sadly there a some big businesses out there that will seek to take unfair advantage from what they see as a one-sided relationship.

"I am pleased that the UK has taken a lead in providing a solution and set the course for the rest of Europe."

British vineyards are heading for a bumper year  - and it could finally seal their international reputation for quality.

Anthea McIntyre MEP, an official ambassador for English regional wines, said: "I am confident that the 2018 vintage looks like being so productive and so good that it finally puts our wines right where they belong on the global map."

The combination of a near-perfect weather sequence and increasing land under vines means Britain’s wine growers are anticipating both large volumes and great quality in one of the earliest harvests in living memory.

The growing season has been hailed as offering "dream conditions" - in contrast with  last year when many vineyards were devastated by late April frosts, meaning yields were down.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative Agriculture spokesman in  the European Parliament, said: "The quality and reputation of English and Welsh wines has been growing gradually for years.

"Many regions offer a genuinely outstanding climate and terroir for the right vines and international wine experts are increasingly recognising the excellence we deliver."

Miss McIntyre is herself a partner in a small family vineyard in Herefordshire and has been named an official wine champion by the English and Welsh wine industry.

She said: "This year we expect the perfect combination of a tip-top product with potentially thousands more bottles produced - and that means more retailers, more restaurant, more wine-lovers all over the world potentially trying our best wines.

"I think we may well end up looking back on 2018 as our global breakthrough vintage."