A major report on the implications for the European Union of pesticide policy reform warns that the community will become a net importer of agricultural products.
Proposals under discussion in the European Parliament and member state governments could see many plant protection products withdrawn from the market and there are fears that the replacements available are inadequate.
The report, commissioned by the European Parliament's agricultural committee, produced by the University of Warwick and published this week, says the commission proposals will seriously hamper farmers' ability to manage pests and diseases.
It warns that, "under commission cut-off criteria, loss of herbicides would jeopardise production of minor crops such as carrot, parsnip and onion, and fungicide loss might result in 20% to 30% yield losses in wheat".
The report concludes that Europe's farmers have managed until now to attain world record yields that contributed to the food self sufficiency of the continent.
If worst-case scenarios are confirmed, regarding the impact of "cut-off" criteria, the European agricultural economy and related upstream and downstream industries will wither and Europe will become a net importer of agricultural products.
Alyn Smith, Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's agricultural committee, commented: "This report carries real weight, having been produced by the parliament's own research people. The fact that this so starkly confirms what many of us have been saying for months is truly frightening, and I hope the member state governments will pay good heed.
"I have no difficulty with the principle that the EU's chemical industry should be pressured to innovate towards cheaper, safer products, but there has to be balance and food security must surely take precedence unless there are real proven risks to any particular product."
Ammonia firm hit by fall in demand
GROWHOW UK has temporarily suspended manufacture of ammonia at its Billingham site, in response to the global downturn in demand.
The company was quick to reassure farmers that the decision does not affect its ability to meet demand for UK fertiliser. Ammonium nitrate continues to be manufactured at both the company's UK sites to fulfil orders and its forecasts for spring demand.
"Ammonia produced at Billingham is used by a wide range of industries, including the building industry and motor manufacture, where there has been considerable reduction in activity," said Ken Bowler, marketing manager at the Teesside company.