CIPC under scrutiny

The CIPC issue once again came under the spotlight at the Potato Council’s Western region 2013 Winter Forum event.

It was a chance to report on the recent meeting with the regulatory authorities; to make clear the on-going threat to CIPC; and to outline the priority actions to avoid future residues.

The CIPC Stewardship Group Chairman – and Potato Council Head of R&D – Dr Mike Storey said that the meeting with the ACP (Advisory Committee on Pesticides) was a significant opportunity to demonstrate the progress made over the last five years.

“We showcased the results from the stewardship group’s Action Plan (figure 1) which gave a very clear message that the industry is committed to stewardship, whilst also making clear our awareness of the serious implications of exceedances.”

Figure 1

CIPC Stewardship Group Action Plan (in summary)

• A committed cross-industry group responsible for the Action Plan

• A communication strategy to promote the uptake of best practice measures

• A commitment to support R&D relating to the variability of CIPC residues

• Review of R&D to identify gaps and priorities for future research

• A Code of Best Practice for use of CIPC

• Industry monitoring for CIPC

• Industry surveys to benchmark and monitor understanding of CIPC use

Yet despite the positive progress, MRL (Maximum Residue Level) exceedances have been found again recently, which clearly shows the extent of the challenge and why the regulators continue to be concerned.  “If the industry fails to resolve the outstanding concerns, ACP will have no choice but to recommend regulatory action to Ministers, which could result in the withdrawal of CIPC,” stated Dr Storey.

Assessing areas for the industry to focus, he pointed to market research conducted in November 2012 that questioned 150 people responsible for the management of stored potato crops. “Encouragingly it showed that the majority reported that their practices have changed, indicating that best practice measures are being adopted.”

He outlined that there is increasing recognition of the importance of uniform air distribution through the store, with positive ventilation and the fitting of Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to stores going a long way to limiting quantities of CIPC deemed necessary to protect tuber quality and avoid sprouting.

“This is great progress, but with other research also showing some quite consistent intervals between CIPC applications, the question is whether treatments are being made on a calendar basis, rather than being based on need, according to the sprouting level.

“This is a key issue,” said Dr Storey. “There is a real opportunity to look at total dose of CIPC being applied, and look at where it may be reduced. The industry data shows that the crop will ‘hold’ for longer if the first CIPC treatment is applied early – so intervals are extended when timing is optimised, thus making every treatment go further and improving efficiency all round.”

He added that while the majority of CIPC exceedances have been tracked back to box stores destined for the fresh market, making these stores a key priority, he was clear that this should not lead to any complacency in the chipping and processing sectors.

Dr Storey concluded with three key ‘take home messages’. “Ensure CIPC recommendations are made by a BASIS qualified advisor; review the store check-list especially where modifications may be needed to improve ventilation management, and thirdly work with NAAC listed CIPC applicators to comply with best practice.”