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Global increase in pesticide use

The global pesticide market reached $27,825 million in 1994, an increase of 10.1% over the previous year, according to the British Agrochemicals Association (BAA) annual report. This represents a growth in real terms of 2.9% - the largest increase in many years.

The global analysis, carried out by Wood Mackenzie (WM) for the BAA, revealed a 12% rise in pesticide sales across Western Europe, strongest in France, Italy, Germany and the UK.  Other areas of expansion were North America; Latin America, particularly Brazil and Argentina; Japan and several other Asian markets, notably Thailand, Indonesia and India; South Africa and some North African markets, but not in the rest of Africa. Sales fell in Australia and Russia.  There were no surprising changes in usage per crop (see tables).

Global agrochemical usage 1994
By crop % By world area % By product type %
Vegetables 24.7 North America 29.8 Herbicides 42.0
Cereals 14.2 East Asia 28.1 Insecticides 28.8
Rice 13.0 West Europe 24.2 Fungicides 19.5
Maize 11.2 Latin America 9.2 Others 9.7
Cotton 10.2 East Europe 3.4 100.0
Soybeans 8.4 Rest of the World 5.3
Sugar beet 2.8 100.0
Rapeseed 1.7
Other 13.8

The UK pesticide industry
BAA member sales  in 1994 reached 1,318.1 million, an increase of 3%, on the previous year.  UK sales increased by 10.6 million,  although this represents a decrease of 1% against inflation.  However, WM believes that the long term influence of the CAP reforms in the European Union now appear marginal, and that farmers have reverted to traditional spraying programmes. 
    By weight, active ingredient use remained almost static at 24,206 tonnes, about half of which are herbicides. UK farmers' purchases have declined in real terms by 22% since 1990, and accounted for 5% of inputs in 1994 compared with 6.5% in 1990.  While profits rose, employment fell by 2% and this was mainly in the areas of manufacturing, research and development rather than in sales.
    As the major UK arable crop, (3.1 million/ha.) cereals account for the by far the largest proportion of pesticides, and are sprayed on average 6.4 times during the year. Potatoes were sprayed more often (8.5 times), with sugar beet marginally more at 6.5 times.

Europe - biggest exporting region
The increased sales came primarily from exports, which rose by 27.6 million to 869.5 million, an increase of 3.3% over 1993.  The European Union is the biggest exporting region, with 46.7% of global exports in 1994, compared with 38.4% in 1993. Exports to Japan increased by 77.1%, but only account for 4% the total. 

UK and European issues
The industry priorities closer to home are to keep the Pesticides Safety Directorate on target with registration applications of active ingredients;  to reduce further the cost to industry of registration and post-approval monitoring, which has already dropped from 1.81% to 1.62% of UK turnover; and to argue for higher pesticide residues in drinking water than the current 0.1 ppb allowed under EU Regulations. "This is forcing water supply companies to waste billions of pounds removing safe, trace levels of pesticides" said a industry spokesman recently. The BAA is also lobbying for delays and minimised costs to industry on the standards on transport of dangerous goods as the UK is bringing standards up to European and UN levels.
    These concerns are at odds with environmentalists, who wish to see the application of the precautionary and polluter pays principles.  On a more positive note, the BAA has been promoting integrated crop management, encouraging more targeted and efficient use of pesticides, however less of this work is now being funded by the agrochemical industry as other organisations have been encouraged to contribute funding. 
    The industry lobby group has been active in several educational areas, not only producing a training pack for use in agricultural colleges and farming 'influencers', but also targeting schools at both secondary and primary levels, with a pack on the agrochemical industry's contributing to feeding the world, one for the A level curriculum and another for teacher training colleges.

BAA Annual Report, 1994, 4 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, PE1 2RP, Tel 01733 349225, Fax 01733 62523.

[This article first appeared in Pesticides News No. 28, June 1995, page  7]

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