§ Mr. Peter Mills
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now ban the use of mercury compounds in seed dressings on environmental grounds; and whether alternative seed dressings are now available.
§ Mr. Strang
Alternative seed dressings are available for certain uses. However, none has yet been shown to be as effective as mercury compounds for treatment of seed for all major cereals, and sugar beet, intended for use in United Kingdom conditions. Only one alternative cereal seed dressing has yet been approved for efficacy under the Agricultural Chemicals Approval Scheme, and solely for use on winter wheat. In the absence of any fresh developments my right hon. Friend proposes to adhere to the existing clearances for mercurial compounds given in the light of advice from the expert committee which keeps the use of these seed dressings under review as part of its responsibilities under the Pesticides Safety Precautions Scheme.