§ Mr. Forman
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received advocating the introduction of efficiency tests or standards for pesticide spray application equipment, based upon the number of droplets it produces per unit area of the target.
§ Mrs. Fenner
None in such specific terms. However, the testing of spraying equipment under the Food and438W Environment Protection Bill was advocated by a number of speakers during debate on the Bill in another place and by some organisations in their comments on the proposals for legislation.
§ Mr. Forman
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what studies his Department has made, or is aware of, regarding the effect of the rodenticide Brodifacoum and its effects on barn owls and other birds of prey.
§ Mrs. Fenner
Before any rodenticide is cleared under the pesticides safety precautions scheme notifiers must supply data on studies of toxicity to non-target species including wildlife populations. This data is then scrutinised by Government experts and by the Advisory Committee on Pesticides, its scientific sub-committee and its specialist environmental panel. Only when this examination of the data has satisfied Government Departments that, provided the recommended precautions are followed, the product can be used with minimal risk to wildlife is the product cleared for use in the United Kingdom. All clearances are kept under review and can be withdrawn or amended in the light of new evidence of risk.
Brodifacoum has been scrutinised in this way. The possibility of a risk to predators such as owls from its persistence in rodent carcases was identified and, for this reason, the chemical currently has commercial clearance for indoor use only. However, further data from small-scale trials have been submitted to the environmental panel and will be forwarded to the scientific sub-committee for consideration in due course.
As part of our continuous surveillance of pesticides use, my Department operates a wildlife incident investigation scheme under which all reported incidents of suspected pesticide poisoning of wildlife are investigated. The results are taken into account in the review of clearances. No incidents linking barn owl deaths in the United Kingdom with the use of Brodifacoum have been reported. There have been reports of owl deaths in Malaysia associated with the widespread outdoor use of Brodifacoum, but the circumstances of this use are radically different from those which pertain in the United Kingdom.