HC Deb 27 October 1988 vol 139 c341W
Mrs. Gillian Shephard

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from apple and pear growers seeking urgent approval by his Department of low volume spray procedures; and if he can give any indications of the progress in discussions with the industry on this matter.

Mr. Ryder

I have not received any representations from apple and pear growers as such, but horticultural interests are represented on our application technology panel by a nominee of the National Farmers Union. The panel is currently formulating guidance on the question which will be considered by the advisory committee on pesticides.

Users of reduced-volume application equipment do not require specific approval for the use of such equipment, nor are they obliged to follow recommended dilution rates for individual pesticides, although the total permitted dose is regulated. Moreover, growers are obliged by the legislation to "take all reasonable precautions to protect the health of human beings, creatures and plants, to safeguard the environment, and in particular to avoid pollution of water".

Guidance as to what would constitute appropriate precautions for low-volume use generally is given in part 6 of our revised draft code of practice for the agricultural and commercial horticultural use of pesticides. However the code does not yet cover air-assisted applications. Until such guidance can be made available users of air-assisted equipment should judge, in the light of the nature of the compound, their experience and their local circumstances, what would constitute reasonable precautions.