31 December 2005 Issue 193 Click (or ctrl + click) on the page number to reach the article


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Bayer’s new aphicide Biscaya has been granted full approval in the UK for use in seed and ware potato crops by the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD). Based on the new active ingredient thiacloprid it is efficacious against the peach-potato aphid, potato aphid and other more sporadic aphid pests of potatoes. Biscaya is the first foliar product from the new chloronicotinyl (CNI) class of insecticides developed by Bayer CropScience and introduces its new ‘O-TEQ’ formulation technology. This is an oil dispersion (OD) based on vegetable oil, rather than the solvents used in conventional EC formulations. According to Bayer, it aids dispersion across the foliage and accelerates uptake of the insecticide in the plant. The company plans to launch Biscaya early in 2006 alongside its recently approved new blight product Infinito (flupicolide), so that both new products will be available for potato growers to use in 2006.


The Italian Ministry of Agriculture has approved Makhteshim Agan’s proprietary insecticide Rimon (novaluron) for use in potato crops. Makhteshim is now working to broaden the approval to include uses in other crops. This approval for Rimon is the first in an EU member state. Makhteshim says it is confident that this will assist the registration of Rimon in other EU countries.


The contract research organisation, AgroChemex, based in Manningtree, Essex, UK, has set up a new and unique facility to test pesticides for operator and bystander exposure. This follows the findings of the recent UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. While the commission reported that there was no clear evidence, it did state that there was a potential health risk to bystanders and recommended that further research should be conducted. The facility will be operated by a new company, AgroChemex International, which will be run by managing director, Andrew Wilson. In addition to its current UK base the new company has also established a field station in Valencia, Spain, to extend coverage to southern Europe. Mr Wilson commented: “We are really excited to have set up this new venture to help the farming industry and its suppliers. We will now be able to provide the required data to alleviate the fears of the wider community.”
In another move to expand its services, Alan Gamblin, chief executive of the parent company AgroChemex, has announced that a tie-up has been agreed with the Lincolnshire potato and vegetable research and soil analysis company, GrowScience, run by Dr John Keer. Mr Gamblin said: “This agreement consolidates our position as the experts in vegetable as well as combinable crops, fruit and amenity contract research. It provides us with a field base in the prime vegetable area to complement the extensive facilities we have at Manningtree.”


Chlorpyrifos has been granted Annex I inclusion under EU directive 91/414/EEC. As a result insecticides containing chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl - including Dursban WG, Lorsban and Equity - can continue to be used as crop protection products in agriculture and horticulture across the EU. "Dow AgroSciences welcomes the decision which has been made by leading scientific and government experts," said James Knight, marketing manager responsible for Dow AgroSciences Dursban products in the UK. "It means our customers can continue to sell, recommend and use our products with the assurance that once again the insecticide has passed intense, independent evaluation.” In many markets there are no effective alternatives to chlorpyrifos; in others our product has an important part to play in anti-resistance strategies. Therefore, the decision means an important product in controlling pests can continue to be used." The EU decision is consistent with other evaluations undertaken in the UK early in 2005 as well as by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 and the World Health Organisation/ Food and Agriculture Organisation in 1999.


In December the EU Agriculture Council of Ministers came closer to reaching a Qualified Majority Vote (QMV) in favour of approving 1507 maize for food use in the European Union.  Three more member states voted positively on 1507 than at the June 2005 regulatory committee. The maize is genetically modified with a Bt gene, making it resistant to certain insect pests and was jointly developed by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont, and by Dow AgroSciences. Its use for import and animal feed was approved by the European Commission in November and is already approved in 12 other countries around the world. It is understood that 1507 maize meets all the EU’s regulatory requirements, including three positive safety opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for all of its intended uses in the EU. There is, however, still a minority of member states that continue to vote negatively on all GMO products. “It’s definitely a good sign that more and more member states are voting positively. We hope this trend continues and that more member states drop their blanket opposition to GMOs in recognition of the safety and the benefits of these products for Europe’s agriculture, for the environment and for the developing world”, stated Simon Barber, director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at EuropaBio, the EU Association for Bioindustries. 


The year 2005 ended on a good note for the biotechnology industry. Germany’s new food, agriculture and consumer protection minister, Horst Seehofer, announced strong support for genetically modified (GM) agriculture and crop research. This represents a change in policy in Germany given the negative GM sentiment expressed by his predecessor. This shift in government thinking in Germany could have implications for EU policy, as Germany is the EU’s largest country and home to a strong anti-GM movement. Many seed companies have indicated that they see Germany as the battleground in their quest to win global support for GM crops.
During an interview with the newspaper Berliner Zeitung, Mr Seehofer said that the German Agriculture Ministry would stop giving preferential treatment to organic farmers, as was the case under the Green Agriculture Minister Renate Kunast. Whereas Kunast supported highly restrictive laws for GM crops that were heavily criticised by Germany’s bioscience community, it appears that Seehofer intends to encourage GM technology. It has also been suggested that additional funding will be available for GM crop programmes.

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