Crop protection saves UK consumers £70 billion in annual food costs, concludes a new report released yesterday (Monday, December 6).
The Cranfield University study found that without the deployment of pesticides to control weeds, pests and diseases, crop yields would fall to half their current levels and food prices would rise by 40 per cent.
This would have severe implications for employment, efficiency and profitability in farming and related food businesses, the report warns.
Discussed at the Chatham House Annual Food Security Conference today, the report focuses on supporting innovation and investment in crop protection technology, at a time when food security is high on the political agenda.
Sean Rickard, an economist who wrote the present government’s agricultural manifesto, wrote the report and it was commissioned by the UK Crop Protection Association in order to highlight the importance of crop protection to the UK.
The chief executive of the UK Crop Protection Association, Dominic Dyer, said: “This study sends a clear message that access to the most advanced farming technologies is essential, not only to maintain the quality, consistency and affordability of our food supply, but also to keep UK agriculture competitive and to safeguard jobs, growth and wealth creation within the rest of the food chain.”
According to the report, the higher prices associated with crop productivity losses represent the net value of plant protection products in the farming industry; in the UK this is estimated in the order of £12 billion.
In addition, the report says that the supply of raw materials from UK farmers to the domestic food processing and manufacturing industry would fall, leading to increased imports at much inflated prices at an additional cost of £40 billion to the UK food processing and manufacturing industry – approximately twice the existing costs of raw material procurement.
The report also suggests how the absence of crop protection products might affect food costs at the EU level, estimating additional food expenditures of £750 billion for EU citizens.
Howard Minigh, president and CEO of CropLife International, which represents the global plant science industry said: “Around the world, crop protection products are helping farmers to meet the demand for safe, nutritious and affordable food, in the face of population growth, climate change and scarce natural resources.”