I am writing in response to your article in last Sunday's paper " Wheat rust: The fungal disease that threatens to destroy the world crop (Apr 20th, p8-9)."
With up to 40% of the world's potential crop production already lost annually because of the effects of weeds, pests and disease, managing these pressures is one of the great challenges farmers face. Fortunately, thanks to the crop protection technologies available to them, alongside other pest management techniques they can at least attempt to protect their yields and continue to provide safe and affordable food to the public.
However, the ability of UK and European farmers to respond to these pressures in future is being put at risk by EU policy-makers taking an overly precautious approach to crop protection technologies such as insecticides and herbicides. This has meant that many of the key crop protection products our farmers rely on are, or are at risk of, being taken off the market, even though they have been proven to be safe and are subject to one of the most stringent approvals processes in the world.
Given that the global population is expected to reach 9bn by 2050, and in the face of threats to crop production such as those highlighted in your article, it is vital that Europe steps up its contribution to global agricultural production, something it appears to be in denial about at present. Regulators must understand that global food security is in danger unless they change their attitudes to technology and innovation.
Nick von Westenholz,
Chief Executive, Crop Protection Association