Page last updated at 06:15 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 07:15 UK

Pesticides crop row intensifies

Indian plant hopper
NFU Scotland are concerned a ban would damage farming

EU plans to impose stricter controls on the use of pesticides will ban chemicals essential to Scottish farming, it has been claimed.

NFU Scotland said its members must be allowed to use pesticides to overcome the country's wet climate.

The organisation will lobby MEPs who are due to vote on the proposed restrictions later this year.

Organic growers in Scotland, who hardly use pesticides, said the controls would not have a detrimental effect.

The organic movement believes that the Brussels' ban will target only a few chemicals known to be harmful.

Toxic chemicals

EU agriculture ministers approved stricter controls on the use of pesticides, after two years of debate.

The package would force farmers to abandon substances found to be toxic to humans.

Carcinogenic chemicals or those harmful to human hormones or reproduction would be banned. Pesticides would no longer be approved nationally, but regionally.

Hungary, the Irish Republic, Romania and the UK abstained from the vote.

UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn argued that more scientific studies were needed to assess the likely impact of the controls.

But the Slovenian Agriculture Minister, Iztok Jarc, said the rules - replacing the EU's 1991 pesticides legislation - would ensure "the high standards needed to prevent harmful effects of plant protection products on human and animal health or the environment".

Many Euro MPs have called for even tougher controls on pesticides - and the package may be amended accordingly by the parliament in the autumn.

Environmental consultancy ADAS says yields of key crops such as potatoes and wheat could fall by 25% under the proposed EU ban.

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