Crop guides on pesticide residue minimisation

The Agency recognises that consumers want pesticide residues reduced further than the current safe levels. As part of the Agency's action plan to minimise pesticide residues in food, guides have been produced on five crops grown in the UK (apples, pears, cereals, potatoes and tomatoes).

These crops were not selected because of any food safety concerns. They include staple diet foods and present examples of particular challenges for residue reduction, and where industry has already made progress. The guides were drafted by ADAS (an agricultural advisory service), in liaison with key industry stakeholders, and have been reviewed following a public consultation.

The guides are intended for a broad audience within the food industry, from farmer to retailer. They aim to raise awareness of the issue of pesticide residues, and to support the industry to deliver existing pesticide residue minimisation initiatives.

The Agency held meetings with relevant industry organisations during 2007 to discuss and support further initiatives to reduce pesticides.

Structure and content

The guides provide detailed information covering the following areas:

  • description of the crop and its production methods and market
  • pesticides used on the crop and reasons for their use
  • pesticide residues found on the crop
  • approaches to reduce pesticide residues
  • research relevant to reducing residues
  • knowledge and technology transfer (translating of research results into clear advice to farmers)

The scope of the guides covers production within the UK using conventional methods. Organic farming, use of genetic modification, and the non-professional use of pesticides are outside their scope.

They offer general advice on the broad approaches to reducing residues that may be explored and a combined reference source of best practice and existing initiatives at the time of writing. They do not include detailed protocols that would require regular updating. Where possible, contact details and web-site addresses have been included so that up-to-date information can be easily found.

The guides were amended in Dec 2006 to make the following change to the text. The wording in the first paragraph of the liability disclaimer has been changed to reflect that the information contained within the guides was correct to the best of the author's knowledge up to March 2006 rather than at time of publication, as stated previously.

Industry initiatives

Many producers and their customers are keen to address pesticide residue minimisation and many industry initiatives already exist. Most UK retailers source produce from growers that comply with specific assurance schemes and it is acknowledged that the crop guides will have greatest impact if they are taken forward with food assurance schemes.