The European Parliament's temporary committee on pesticides must take a common sense approach to regulation if it is to make a useful contribution, a leading member said.

Conservative Agriculture Spokesman Anthea McIntyre MEP told a Brussels debate on pesticides regulation to bear in mind that the pesticides committee was a political initiative by certain political groups with an eye to next year’s European elections. It had a temporary lifespan and a short timeline.

She said: "The whole process is relatively short, it will only produce an opinion, not legislation. I nevertheless would welcome the opportunity for MEPs to ask questions to experts in a format that allows a 'ping-pong' of questions and answers back and forth."

Miss McIntyre said that, for some people,  the argument was not about whether glyphosate was safe but whether we should authorise any chemicals for use in food and agricultural production.

She said: "I believe we have to take a common sense approach to this issue. We need to authorise safe chemicals if we are to maintain food security."

Miss McIntyre rejected an assertion by an agricultural trade union that farmers generally used pesticides inappropriately.

She said chemicals were expensive, so farmers would use the smallest amount possible. Precision farming and integrated pest-management methods were making sure pesticides were applied in an ever more efficient and environmentally-friendly way.

“I hope that something sensible will come out of the pesticides committee and I hope it will deliver on its mandate. We need to provide science-based policy making and distinguish fact from fiction.”