Farmers and growers using anticoagulant rodenticide products in their operations need to be trained and certified as competent in their use under new rules, which start to be phased in from April this year.
For some time in the UK there has been growing concern about the toxicity of the anticoagulant rodenticides which account for most of the baits used in the UK, as well as rodent resistance to some of these actives and their effect on the environment, particularly to raptor species at the top of the food chain.
The EU Biocides Regulation (BPR) of 2012 introduced new authorisation procedures for biocidal products including rodenticides. The toxicity of these products and their residues in wildlife could have led to their withdrawal from the market for outdoor use all together. However the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which is responsible for implementing the BPR in the UK, realised that there were no effective alternatives to anticoagulant rodenticides in controlling rats and mice.
The HSE in consultation with the industry (CRRU), has introduced a UK Rodenticide Stewardship Scheme, which aims to restrict the availability of these products to ensure they are used responsibly in order to protect their efficacy for as long as possible – while not adversely affecting non-target species such as owls, which may consume poisoned rodents.
New product labels
Under the new scheme, all anticoagulant products on the market will have to have their market authorisations renewed.
From April 2016, authorised products will carry new ‘stewardship conditions’ labelling. As of April 2016, users including farmers, gamekeepers and professional pest controllers, will only be able to buy the stewardship label products if they hold a certified proof of competence or are a member of an approved farm assurance scheme.
Old label products
Old label products (remaining stocks) which do not require proof of competence will be available for purchase until October 1st, 2016, and can be used up until March 31st, 2017. After that date it will be illegal to use old label products.
The cross industry Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) is at the forefront of work to ensure the new rules are communicated to all users, are effective, and reduce wildlife residues. Its objective, following discussions with farm assurance schemes, is to bring their standards into line with the CRRU Code of Best Practice (CoBP) before the end of December 2017. Beyond this date such CoBP aligned schemes will continue to provide proof of competence for purchase of professional rodenticide products.
Farmers who are members of schemes that are not aligned will not be able to use their membership for purchases of rodenticides beyond the end of December 2017.
This means that any person who has not been trained nor is a member of an aligned farm assurance scheme will only be able to purchase rodenticides in ‘amateur’ packs up to 1.5kg from October this year.
The introduction of the scheme is seen as a ‘last chance saloon’ for the pest control and farm supply sector to demonstrate it can sell and use these products responsibly.
If the stewardship measures are not shown to be effective, the products could be further restricted or even withdrawn.
This is a very serious issue and requires the co-operation of all of those in the supply chain as well as the major users – professional pest controllers, farmers and game keepers.
The most important part of the new Rodenticide Stewardship Scheme is the control of the supply of professional rodenticides. The aim is to control the supply and keep professional rodenticides out of unqualified hands.
Three points of sale declarations have been produced and the challenge has been to make the process as simple and straight forward as possible.
In the early stages of introducing the new scheme there is going to be a lot of work to get the system up and running. The scheme is voluntary but all authorisation holders (manufacturers) have signed up to it, so failure to follow the requirements of these declarations is likely to result in the withdrawal of supply.
Users should also remember that product labels are legal requirements and failure to follow them risks prosecution.
All of the forms are available on the CRRU website under the downloads tab; www.thinkwildlife.org