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Volume 264: debated on Tuesday 24 October 1995

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what monitoring is carried out by or for his Department to ensure (a) that pesticide residues on horticultural produce remain below recommended levels and (b) that the amount of pesticides sprayed on to horticultural crops remains below recommended levels. [37747]

Monitoring of both home-produced and imported food for pesticide residues is carried out for the Government's working party on pesticide residues. Some 3,000 to 4,000 samples are analysed each year at a cost of over £2 million.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research has been carried out by or on behalf of his Department into the effects on humans of pesticide levels which exceed recommended levels, with special reference to the long-term low-level effects of pesticides on humans. [37745]

The Department does not carry out or directly commission any such research. However, before any pesticide is permitted for use, a thorough assessment of its potential impact on humans, including long-term effects, is carried out based on research carried out by the applicant company on that specific pesticide. This assessment will identify the level at which no adverse effects will be seen and use is only permitted if it is expected to lead to human exposure substantially less than that level. The assessment also identifies the effects that may begin to be seen at high levels.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what guidelines there are to control (a) the amount of pesticides sprayed on to horticultural crops and (b) the levels of pesticide residues on fresh fruit and vegetables. [37748]

For each approved pesticide the maximum permitted usage rate, which may vary from crop to crop, will be set out on the product label. In some cases, a minimum interval between application of a pesticide and harvesting a crop will also be specified. It is an offence for a pesticide user to breach these statutory conditions of use. The conditions are set so as to ensure that, when observed, they do not give rise to unacceptable levels of residue on and in crops.For many pesticides, statutory maximum residue levels have been set which reflect the greatest amount of pesticide that should be found in a crop which has not been treated according to the approved conditions of use. The statutory code of practice for the safe use of pesticides on farms and holdings provides general guidance on the application of pesticides.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what pesticide products have been licensed for use in horticultural production since 1972; and what is the proprietary name, the manufacturing company, the exact ingredients and the date of the licence in each case. [37746]

Pesticides approved as of 31 October 1994 are listed in the HMSO publication "Pesticides 1995". However, the detailed information requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Ministers only approve the marketing or use of a pesticide if thorough evaluation establishes that it is effective and poses no unacceptable risk to human beings, non-target species or the wider environment.