HC Deb 18 January 1972 vol 829 cc204-5
23. Mr. Hardy

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will reconsider his advice to farmers in regard to the use of cereal seed dressed with aldrin, dieldrin or heptachlor, with a view to preventing or further limiting the use of such seed dressings, particularly on spring-sown grain.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

It has been reconsidered. Last month we reaffirmed the advice, to which all agricultural organisations subscribe, that these dressings should not be used on spring sown grain, nor on autumn sowings unless there is a real risk from wheat bulb fly.

Mr. Hardy

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that although the majority of farmers conduct themselves responsibly, there is a minority who continue to disregard the advice given by the Ministry? Does he not agree that it is time to consider introducing firm and positive arrangements to secure a reduction in the use of these insecticides, which are still being used, since people are still irresponsibly ignoring the advice given by the Department? Further, would he agree that, since the Government have seen an increase in food prices of 13 per cent. in the last few months, it is reasonable to expect that the increased cost which this suggestion would involve would be minute and would considerably help our society?

Mr. Stodart

I do not think this is a matter of cost. The Wilson Committee reviewed the use of organic chlorines in 1969 and found that the restrictions had lowered the number of incidents with birds, which are the chief sufferers, but the Committee also found that bulb fly was still too damaging to recommend a total withdrawal of dressings. The damage done by bulb fly in a bad year can amount to around £3 million.

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