Endocrine disruptor legislation ‘could cost UK industry over £905 million’


Endocrine disruptor legislation ‘could cost UK industry over £905 million’

The loss of agrochemical actives as a result of recent EU hazard-based assessment criteria has the potential to cost UK agriculture over £905 million – or 10% of current farmgate value, according to a new Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) report.


The report, commissioned by AHDB, of which HDC is a division, assessed the estimated financial impact of the loss of crop protection active substances which might be defined as ‘endocrine disruptors’ under the new EU hazard-based approach.


Compiled by ADAS on behalf of AHDB, BBRO and PGRO, the report assessed three scenarios across 51 horticultural, arable and forestry sectors.  The estimated losses in the subsequent production year under these scenarios ranged from £905 million to over £3 billion, and assumed that all active substances in a scenario were lost at the same time.  They also assume that mitigating actions such as alternative chemistry, would be used where available.


Scenario One looks at the loss of 10 fungicides, 3 herbicides and 4 insecticides, with the largest impact on the horticulture sector.  Total food production losses are estimated at 2.4 million tonnes.


Scenario Two includes an additional 11 fungicides, 7 herbicides and 2 insecticides, with edible horticulture accounting for the largest proportion of losses, followed by other edible crops such as cereals, oilseeds, potatoes, pulses and sugar beet. Total food production losses are estimated at 5.7 million tonnes.


Scenario Three includes an additional 29 active substances in addition to both scenarios above with significant impact across all sectors, with food production losses estimated at 14.2 million tonnes.


AHDB Chairman Peter Kendall said: “The ability of UK farmers and growers to seize their share of growing market opportunities depends on having the right tools to become the most efficient and sustainable food producers they can. Central to that ambition is retaining access to effective crop protection products.  This AHDB report comes at a critical time to provide independent information to inform the wider debate.”



Scenario One has the smallest number of actives at threat but edible horticulture is expected to sustain the greatest impact accounting for £431M which is equivalent to 26% of the sector farmgate value.  Ornamental horticulture accounts for £317M in lost yield, also 26% of farmgate value.


“It is essential the potential impact of any loss of actives is accurately assessed,” says Dr Jon Knight, HDC’s Head of Research and Knowledge Transfer. “AHDB’s aim is to better inform any decision that is finally made around products deemed to be endocrine disrupting chemicals. An adequate range of Crop Protection Products (CPPs) are required to deal with pest problems and sustain levels of production. 


“If more crop is lost to weeds, pests and diseases, overall production becomes less efficient with the additional risk of pesticide resistance developing through an inability to rotate pesticide types.  The potential impacts are particularly severe for horticulture because the reliance on Extensions of Authorisation for Minor Uses for a range of actives means there are fewer alternative products available for filling any gaps,” he added.


Under Scenario One there are a number of crops with over 33% reductions in yields including leeks, salad onions, asparagus, carrot, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, and hops.


In Scenario One, edible crops including cereals, oilseeds, pulses, potatoes, sugar beet, hops and vines have a total loss of 3% of farmgate (£151 million), while forestry losses are lower at 1% of forestgate (£6 million). 



The potato sector follows horticulture in terms of potential farmgate loss in scenario one . 


“This would be almost entirely as a result of the significant reduction in weed control following the loss of linuron at £52 million or 6% of farmgate value and increased costs associated with loss of mancozeb  at £3 million,” says Potato Council’s Head of R&D, Dr Mike Storey.  “This loss would be exacerbated by at least a further £56 million if metribuzin also went under scenario two.


“Losing mancozeb would also lead to serious concerns over resistance management of potato blight as increased numbers of applications of single mode of action active substances could be required in its absence. Future yield losses would therefore increase as resistance develops to remaining active substances,” he added.


Cereals and Oilseeds

Although the number of potential actives under threat is less for cereals and oilseeds, the impact is scaled up over a greater land base.   The potential impact for winter wheat in scenario one is estimated at £12 million, and oilseed rape losses are estimated at £ 4 million.


Harley Stoddart, HGCA’s Policy & Research Manager said: “The loss of fungicides to manage rust, especially epoxiconazole, would cause the greatest yield impact to winter wheat.


“For oilseed rape the loss of  metconazole and tebuconazole used for disease are the main challenges.  In Scenario Two the loss of propyzamide and carbetamide would  also severely limit the ability to manage black-grass which affects 40-50% of arable fields.”


The full report is available at: http://www.ahdb.org.uk/publications/special.aspx




For more information contact: Guy Attenborough on: 024 7647 8675 or email: guy.attenborough@ahdb.org.uk

Notes to editors:

1.            EC Public Consultation on defining criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors in the context of the implementation of the plant protection product regulation and the biocidal products regulation http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dgs_consultations/food/consultation_20150116_endocrine-disruptors_en.htm


2.            AHDB is a UK-wide Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by Defra and primarily funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain through statutory levies. Established in 2008, it supports the following industries: meat and livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs) in England; horticulture, milk and potatoes in Great Britain; and cereals and oilseeds in the UK. The AHDB’s remit covers 75% of total UK agricultural output: . http://www.ahdb.org.uk


3.            BBRO is a non-profit making company set up jointly by British Sugar plc (BS) and the National Farmers' Union (NFU). The objective of the BBRO is to commission and implement research and technology transfer designed to increase the competitiveness and profitability of the UK beet sugar industry in a sustainable and environmentally acceptable manner. This is overseen by the Executive Board members who are responsible for setting the levy: www.bbro.co.uk


4.            PGRO is a non-statutory levy body which is the UK’s centre of excellence for peas and beans. It has a long history and a well-earned reputation for stability and consistency - along with a track record of providing authoritative, up to date information and project work based on solid, reliable research: www.pgro.org