The EU must not unfairly punish the makers of plant protection products - and the farmers who rely on them -  if approval expires because of delays which are non their fault.

That was the message from West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre in Brussels today. She spoke out as the European Parliament's Environment Committee considered the cases of ten "active substances" used in insecticides and other products, whose approval is set to expire because national regulators have failed to complete necessary assessments in time.

The EU commission is proposing to grant a temporary extension of the approval period until the work is done - but Left-wing and Green MEPs are insisting that the approvals should lapse and the agents should be effectively  banned.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on both environment and agriculture, said: "To effectively ban these products overnight would be grossly unfair. Our farmers would be put at an instant competitive disadvantage.

"With regard to Dimoxystrobin, the Commission itself notes that although the European Food Safety Agency conclusions are not yet available, there are so far no clear indications that the approval criteria have not been met.

"As for Mancozeb, the agency's conclusion has been available since June, and the Commission has been clear that it seeking a short extension only.

 "If these extensions were rejected, it would remove approved products from EU growers and farmers, and deny them solutions they need for their farms, and for which they require predictable access. 

"That would be totally unnecessary, disproportionate and wrong."