UK: Campaigners still hoping to save key insecticide chlorpryrifos

A STEWARDSHIP initiative aimed at preventing the loss of the insecticide chlorpyrifos has bought valuable time, says the consortium behind the campaign.

“A year ago we were on the brink of seeing this valued treatment disappear entirely from the crop protection market,” said Steve Norman of Dow AgroSciences, one of the three approval holder companies that launched the “Chlorpyrifs: Say NO to DRIFT” campaign last December.

“It was a situation that demanded an immediate response from growers across the agricultural and horticultural sectors who were given a clear message of ‘No drift or no chlorpyrifos’, and it’s a challenge that was embraced whole-heartedly through 2012.”

DEFRA is currently assessing the level of uptake of new measures adopted for applications of the insecticide this year, which were necessary to comply with more stringent regulatory requirements, but Mr Norman is confident that the level of support experienced during the campaign will be evident.

“We have witnessed a united and concerted effort and change in practices towards wholesale adoption of low-drift nozzles for the wide ranging uses of the insecticide, and these were all measures undertaken voluntarily across arable, fruit and vegetable sectors,” he says.

The new application guidelines, set out by the consortium comprising. Dow AgroSciences, Headland Agrochemicals and Makhteshim Agan, went together with a forceful message to users, advisers and the wider industry, of the imperative to adopt the new measures, or face losing access to the product.

“The nozzles present a chance to retain chlorpyrifos on the market,” said Mr Norman. “This insecticide is of great agronomic value, which really provided the motivation to look at what could be done to secure its future.”

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He added that the entirely unprecedented approach that has been taken with this campaign should not be under-estimated. “Low-drift nozzles don’t currently form any part of the regulatory decisions for the future availability of crop protection products in UK, so this could be a landmark case,” he said.