HC Deb 20 June 1985 vol 81 cc429-30
10. Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied with progress in the development of safer techniques for the application of agricultural chemicals.

Mrs. Fenner

It is our aim to ensure a continuous transition to a higher level of safety in pesticides application. My Department, together with the Agriculture and Food Research Council, is continuing to develop and evaluate various techniques designed to control spray composition and deposition and improve application safety and efficiency. These include rotary atomisation, electrostatic charging, metering devices, the use of air deflection and droplet sizing.

Mr. Carlisle

Does my hon. Friend agree that the massive increase in the use of agricultural chemicals in recent years has had the severest effect on wildlife? While I welcome all the research that she has announced, may I ask whether she is aware that we have a duty to see that this research is carried through to success and is applied rapidly?

Mrs. Fenner

My hon. Friend will be aware that the passage of the Food and Environment Protection Bill will be a major step forward in that it will provide powers to control the use of pesticides. That will be done through regulations, codes of practice and information provided with each pesticide. I am confident that we can develop a procedure for assessing the safety of alternative application systems.

Mr. Home Robertson

Is the Minister aware that safer techniques are of no earthly use unless they are put into effect? Will she accept the need for appropriate training for farm workers and others in the industry? Will the new regulations on pesticides cover a proper training programme for the people concerned?

Mrs. Fenner

In Committee on the Bill we have reached a good agreement on training and certification. During the continued passage of the measure—we hope next week—those matters will become even more evident.