Anthea McIntyre MEP, Conservative agriculture spokesman, has spoken out against a report on pesticides which she says misrepresents the findings of the European Parliament's own researchers and seeks to undermine public trust in much-needed plant protection products.
Miss Mcintyre delivered a scathing criticism of the report which has been drawn up the parliament's Environment Committee when it was debated at Strasbourg's plenary sitting of the house.
She told the Parliament: “It is very important that we have a science based, evidence based approval process...and we do! This is a very rigorous process.”
The negative report is authored by Czech Socialist MEP Pavel Poc and purports to assess how effectively the European Union's most recent Regulation on Plant Protection Products (PPPs) has been implemented since it came into force seven years ago.
However, Miss McIntyre sees it as part of a wider campaign by the Left and ecological extremists to create a climate of fear over PPPs and to erode public confidence in the safety of the authorisation process.
Mr Poc asserts that practical implementation of the regulation does not deliver complete assurance over protection over public health in its three main areas - approvals, authorisations or enforcement.
Miss McIntyre says the report misrepresents the findings of a 588-page study ran up by the European Parliament Research Service to provide detailed analysis for the report.
In particular, it misleadingly notes that the precautionary principle is not being followed in the approval of pesticides, that there is increasing use of emergency authorisations (which are occasionally needed by niche growers), and that national inspection authorities are chronically understaffed.
The report comes as as a Special Committee on Pesticides, set up at the insistence of Green and Socialist MEPs, begins to consider its own recommendations on the authorisation or PPS following a lengthy deadlock over the re-licensing of the popular weedkiller glyphosate.
Miss McIntyre told MEPs: “It is simply not true to say that the precautionary principle is clearly not being applied in the context of risk analysis and pesticides. No doubt there are problems with the implementation in member states, but the answer is not new regulation.
“We need to enforce the regulation we have and a part of that is the possibility of emergency uses.
“This is not national governments flouting the regulation, it is national governments responding to the specific needs of their farmers and their agriculture.”
A West Midlands farmer was in Brussels this week to take his message about safe use of pesticides directly to lawmakers in the European Parliament.
John Chinn's business Cobrey Farms in Coughton, Ross on Wye, is Britain's biggest asparagus producer.
He addressed the parliament's Special Committee on Pesticides at the invitation of West Midlands Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre.
Mr Chinn, who also grows berries, beans and other crops, spoke about the work of the Centre for Crop Health and Protection, one of four agri-tech innovation centres set up by UK Government, which he chairs.
He warned MEPs that the world population of 7.6 billion people would reach 10 billion by 2050, and the great challenge of the 21st century was to produce more food from the same area while protecting biodiversity.
He said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the European Crop Protection Association estimated that without crop protection tools farmers could lose 80 per cent of their harvests to damaging insects, weeds and plant diseases.
However, he outlined how developments such as targeted chemistry, use of biological control agents, targeted application technologies and progress in plant breeding and genetics could combine to ensure the production of safe, healthy, nutritious, affordable food with ever better care for the environment.
He described the EU approval process for plant protection products as one of the most stringent in the world and said it took over 11 years, an average of 200 scientific studies and more than 250 million euros to bring a product to the EU market.
And he warned MEPs: "Rigorous testing and application protocols are very effective in protecting the public and the environment. However little attention has been given to its other aims of effectively supporting productive and competitive agriculture and horticulture.
"The fact that the regulation has just started its eighth year and it has only brought to the market the equivalent of about one new active substance per year, including low-risk substances, demonstrates the approach is failing to deliver for growers.
"For a regulation committed to help innovation and support the industry, this is a categoric failure that stifles the availability of safer, more effective and lower risk pesticides," he told the committee, set up to re-asses the way plant protection products are regulated in response to controversy over the re-licensing of the weedkiller glyphosate.
"The collection of even the very best data about pesticides (on exposures, effects, distributions or persistence) will never answer the concerns that some people have about their use, and non-rationalmyths may force social and political changes.
"Scepticism about received truths has long been a common attitude in opinion formers. EU regulators need to rise above this."
Miss McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in the parliament, said: "This committee was set up with a specific agenda to undermine trust in plant protection products - so I was determined that it would hear from a real life farmer who is also an expert in this area.
"He told the MEPs a few home truths - not only about the industry's real needs but also about very practical ways of limiting the use of products while improving the environment.
"His message about listening to science instead of myths and scaremongering was very powerful."
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in Brussels, today welcomed news that the UK government will test a new scheme for non-EU agricultural workers next year.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "This will effectively be a revival of something similar to the old seasonal workers scheme which ran until 2013, something I have been advocating for a while.
“The numbers are not sufficient to satisfy the shortage of agricultural workers and I do question why it will be limited to two agencies, but overall I am very pleased that our government has a listened to our farmers and acted on their concerns."
Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre has headed off an attempt to slap an immediate ban on British undertakers from the traditional practice of embalming bodies.
Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative Employment Spokesman in the European Parliament, intervened over concerns from the UK funeral industry that new rules on workplace exposure to carcinogens and mutagens would mean an immediate end to the use of embalming fluid to preserve cadavers.
Currently in more than half of British funerals, families ask undertakers for the body of their loved one to undergo some form of embalming, often when they wish to see them in repose. The practice is not so frequent in other parts of Europe.
British funeral directors were concerned that new EU exposure limits for formaldehyde - the key ingredient in embalming fluid - would mean an end to traditional embalming before any replacement products could be developed.
Now Miss McIntyre has persuaded fellow MEPs to grant the funeral industry an exceptional three-year delay in implementation so that proposed new methods and materials can be tested and introduced. The parliament's Employment Committee accepted her compromise in a vote in Brussels
She said: "Many British families choose to visit a funeral parlour to see their loved ones after they have died. It is part of the grieving process and often provides great comfort. Embalming ensures that they have the reassurance of seeing the deceased as they remember them.
"The truth is that lower effective concentrations of embalming fluid and better ventilation have been keeping exposure of workers to formaldehyde fumes lower and lower in Britain as time goes on. It is safer than it has ever been.
"This new legislation is well meant, but I don't think official in Brussels realised quite how big the impact would be on Britain. I am thankful that colleagues have allowed this extended implementation and avoided an immediate ban."
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative Employment spokesman in the European Parliament, today hailed new figures on wage growth as evidence that Government policy continued to create more jobs and better prospects.
She said: "More people are working - and their efforts are earning them more. This broad progress continues month after month, year after year.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, spoke as new statistics showed real wages rising at their fastest pace in nearly ten years - while the number of people in work was at record high as the economy continued to grow.
She said: "Some people are calling it the jobs miracle - but this is down to good government rather than divine intervention.
"I always say businesses create jobs - not politicians. But businesses need the right conditions and encouragement to thrive.
"Our government is helping people into work by backing business and delivering a modern Industrial Strategy.
"That is helping businesses create more and better-paying jobs across the whole country.”
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