Tightening EU regulations could slash the number of fungicides available

The changing focus of the EU’s assessment criteria for fungicides will put at risk the use of many common chemistries, according to Teagasc’s Steven Kildea.

Kildea was speaking at today’s Teagasc Septoria Conference in Co. Meath.

“It will also significantly restrict the number of new chemistries brought to market,” he said.

This is a direct consequence of the shift from risk-based assessment models to those that are hazard-based.

The regulation of chemical substances can be approached in two different ways; one based on hazard and the other based on risk, according to Kildea.

A hazard-based approach, which is now favoured by the EU, regulates chemicals on the basis of their intrinsic properties, without taking account of the exposure to the substances.

The hazard-based approach also adds considerably to the cost of getting new chemistries through the EU registration process. In 1997 this averaged €80m; today the figure is in the region of €265m.

“The efficacy of a new chemistry is one of three aspects linked to the new registration procedures put in place by the EU,” he explained.

Its possible impact on human health and the environment must also be assessed in detail.

Kildea said that endocrine gland disruption is a key focus of assessment, where new and existing fungicides are concerned.

”This work is putting at risk the future use of many existing chemistries, particularly azole-based molecules,” he said.

The Teagasc Plant Protection Specialist confirmed a decreasing sensitivity to azole-based chemistries within Ireland’s septoria populations.

“And the same can be said for SDHI products,” Kildea said.

The innovative use of azole and SDHI mixes will remain the best Septoria control strategy for Irish cereal growers over the coming years, he said.

“There are a number of new chemistries on the horizon. But, in the meantime, it’s a case of making best use of the chemistries that are available,” he concluded.