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Agriculture: Semiochemicals

Volume 715: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of prospects for expanding the use of semiochemicals in United Kingdom agriculture to reduce insect damage. [HL392]

Defra funds a wide-ranging research programme on alternatives to conventional pesticides as part of its long-standing pesticides research programme. This has included work on the potential use of semiochemicals in pest control for a number of years. Collaborative Government research with industry has included using semiochemicals for integrated pest management (IPM), in combination with resistant varieties, biological control and more targeted or reduced use of pesticides.

This applied work is complemented by more fundamental research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Department for International Development on other target species at UK institutes and universities.

In terms of performance alone it is unlikely that direct use of semiochemicals as individual control tools for specific targets will match that of conventional crop protection. Their role is more likely to be as part of an integrated strategy (eg as successful monitoring tools) with any wider commercial uptake being more limited where highly effective pest control and minimal cost input is required to meet market demands.

The Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) of the Health and Safety Executive is the government body responsible for authorising plant protection products. CRD operates a biopesticides (including semiochemicals) scheme that has reduced fees for dealing with these types of substances. CRD also has a biopesticides champion who is able to help companies understand the regulatory system.