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Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls are in place to govern the use of pesticides on crops; who is responsible for allowing the use of new pesticides; what checks are in place; and if she will make a statement on her most recent assessment of the effectiveness of pesticides. [115134]

The use of pesticides on crops is governed by two legislative systems running in parallel. Established agricultural pesticides are regulated by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (as amended), made under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. New pesticides for use on crops are regulated by the Plant Protection Product Regulations 1995 (as amended), which implement EC Directive 91/414/EEC.All established agricultural pesticides are subject to an on-going EU review programme to ensure that the data supporting their approvals meet modern safety standards. Subject to a satisfactory outcome, they are then regulated, with new pesticides, under the Plant Protection Product Regulations 1995.The following Government Departments have joint responsibility for allowing the use of new pesticides: the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health, the Health and Safety Executive (for the Department for Work and Pensions), the Food Standards Agency, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive.The Health and Safety Executive carries out checks on the safe use and storage of agricultural pesticides during inspections of farms and other holdings, as part of their work in assessing compliance in general with health and safety legislation.The effectiveness of pesticides is considered as an integral part of the approval process and is assessed when an application is made for the marketing and use of a pesticide product.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance is available to farmers who do not use pesticides on their crops; and what proposals she has to encourage non-use of (a) pesticides and (b) other chemicals on crops. [115135]

The Government's Organic Farming Scheme encourages the expansion of organic production which uses only a limited range of pesticides. Under the Scheme, farmers moving from conventional to organic farming methods receive financial help during the conversion process. From 30 May 2003, assistance will also be available under the Scheme for existing organic farmers who comply with certain environmental measures.It is established Government policy to encourage farmers and growers to reduce the use of conventional pesticides. This policy is supported in a number of ways including the work of the Pesticides Forum, which promotes responsible pesticide use. The Government also support the industry-led Voluntary Initiative, which aims to encourage farmers to adopt practices that reduce impacts on the environment.It is also Government policy to encourage farmers to minimise their use of other chemical inputs. One of the most important measures we have taken in England is the introduction of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, in which the use of nitrogen fertiliser is limited and controlled.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what European Union funding is available to support farmers to encourage non-use of pesticides on crops; and what recent discussions have taken place with EU representatives regarding organic foods. [115136]

The EU co-funds the Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Area and Organic Farming Schemes under the England Rural Development Programme (ER DP). These agri-environment schemes offer a range of management options primarily designed to achieve a range of objectives including protecting and enhancing biodiversity, wildlife, landscape, historic environment and access. Some of these Schemes do place restrictions on the use of pesticides where it is necessary to achieve these objectives. Agreements are however, not offered solely for the non-use of pesticides.It is our intention to integrate continuing support for Organic Farmers into the new Entry Level Agri-environment Scheme, due to be launched in 2005. This is currently under development and being discussed with stakeholders now. The proposals will be discussed with the European Commission later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the operating cost was of the Pesticides Safety Directorate, in each of the last five years. [115802]

The operating costs for PSD for the past five years are as follows:

£ millions
Operating costs
1Additional costs of £898,000 in 2001–02 associated with the foot and mouth disease are not included in the above figure.