Control of Pesticides etc.

Part of Orders of the Day — Food and Environment Protection Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 26th June 1985.

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Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway 3:46 pm, 26th June 1985

My Department already undertakes a considerable amount of work on resistance to pesticides in agriculture, horticulture and food storage and among houseflies and rodents. I apologise if my response in Committee was brief. I am trying not to be too wordy now, but I feel compelled to inform hon. Members about the work that is carried out.

The Ministry has a small team at Harpenden monitoring crop pest and disease resistance on a regular basis, and at present its work is directed to monitoring eight aphid species of economic importance. As the answers to many questions show, resistance has been confirmed in three of these species. Our regional laboratory at Wye is responsible for monitoring resistance in pests of protected crops for which the problem is most acute, but which have benefited from considerable work on integrated pest control.

Resistance to pesticides for storage pests and houseflies is monitored by the Slough laboratory in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland and Ministry advisers. The pests covered include seven species of storage pests, houseflies in poultry houses and in intensive animal-rearing units, beetles in poultry houses and mites in cheese stores. Resistance to malathion has been demonstrated in one grain beetle and resistance to the fumigant phosphine occurs in stored grain beetles. Flies in animal houses developed resistance to a pyrethroid insecticide which was withdrawn, and the laboratory was instrumental in developing alternative controls. Mites in cheese stores are now resistant to available pesticides, and the Slough laboratory is investigating fumigation techniques to achieve control of pesticide-resistant cheese mites.

The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) referred to resistance in rodents. Work on the extent and implications of anti-coagulant resistance in rodents has mostly been undertaken by the Ministry's agricultural science service, although some studies have been carried out in universities. Monitoring of the extent and incidence of resistance has also been carried out by the Ministry. Staff at the agricultural science service central laboratories are researching two methods of controlling anti-coagulant resistant rodents, alongside work to screen candidates for new rodenticides submitted by the pesticide manufacturers.

I hope that I have given hon. Members some idea of some of the programmes relating to resistance to pesticides. I should say to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey that the advisory committee already considers the problems of resistance to individual pesticides, and with the widening of its terms of reference as a result of this legislation, it will be given powers to examine the extent and implications of resistance to pesticides. Therefore, there is no need for the amendment. We are very conscious of the problem and are already devoting considerable resources to investigating and overcoming it.