HC Deb 29 June 1999 vol 334 cc152-3W
Mr. Boswell

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what assessment he has made of the relative risk to operators in the application of lindane(a) in closed systems for seed treatment and (b) in open systems for fumigation or other purposes; [88377]

(2) what assessment he has made of the alternative pesticides to lindane for the treatment before sowing of (a) cereal seed against wireworm and (b) oil seed against flea beetle; [88376]

(3) if he will defer withdrawal of lindane for those applications for which no suitable alternative pesticide is available. [88375]

Mr. Rooker

[holding answer 28 June 1999]: The Government's first priority in respect of pesticides is the protection of people and the environment. In taking decisions, we are informed by the expect advice of the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

In the case of lindane, the Committee considered the data available from the UK and EU reviews of lindane on effects on people and the environment. In particular, the Committee assessed the risk to operators from each of the approved uses of lindane and advised that exposure during the seed treatment process was unacceptably high. On this basis, the Committee advised and the Government accepted that this use of lindane should end, subject to any representations regarding this decision.

In addition, the Committee advised that further data were required for other uses, specifically sprays applied to soil with subsequent incorporation, agricultural and horticultural smokes and dry powder applications, to refine the operator exposure assessment. The Government also accepted this advice.

Companies have been given until 28 June to make representations and we will consider any further cases they choose to make. However, the Government do not consider the absence of alternatives to be a reason to delay the withdrawal of pesticide approvals where unacceptable risks from short-term exposures have been identified. In the case of uses of lindane treatment of cereal seed against wireworm and oil seed against flea beetle, there are other approved products.

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