Bulk potato stores to be hit by EU ban of Chlorpropham

The European Commission has this month announced authorisations for products containing chlorpropham (CIPC) are being withdrawn. 

Chlorpropham is a plant growth regulator used for pre-emergence control of grass weeds in alfalfa, lima and snap beans, blueberries, caneberries, carrots, cranberries, ladino clover, garlic, seed grass, onions, spinach, sugar beets, tomatoes, safflower, soybeans, gladioli and woody nursery stock. It is also used to inhibit potato sprouting and for sucker control in tobacco.

The EU Commission has published it’s Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/989 concerning the non-renewal of approval of the active substance chlorpropham or CIPC.  Based on the Regulation, CIPC authorisation has not been renewed.

The new Regulation further states that any grace period granted by Member States in accordance with Article 46 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 shall be as short as possible and shall expire by 8 October 2020 at the latest.

Alternatives to CIPC

The ban will be more difficult for existing potato storage sites. CIPC gets into the (wooden) frames of the boxes, so that residues can still be found long after the ban. For this reason, CIPC is no longer applied in most new storage locations.

The Chlorpropham Task Force statement and details with support available can be accessed here.

UK position

UK Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) will need to decide on suitable withdrawal periods and will shortly issue withdrawal notices on the HSE website.

The Task Force expects that the end date for storage, disposal and use will closely follow the EU position but these are not confirmed until publication by CRD.

It will be illegal to use CIPC in the UK beyond these end dates and growers/store managers are advised to check with their supply chain partners/customers prior to treating crop with CIPC.

The maximum residue limit (MRL) of 10ppm is expected to be in place for the 2019/2020 potato storage season. However, because the active substance is not renewed the MRL could fall to near zero within 2 years, and the import of potato products into Europe with residues of CIPC above this level will not be permitted.

An application for a temporary MRL above the limit of quantification (LoQ) to cover previous store contamination is being sought by Certis and UPL to prevent the MRL falling to LoQ in the short term. This limit will be temporary and will differentiate between contamination and illegal use.

The use of CIPC is permitted in the U.S.

Precautionary basis

The decision was made on the precautionary basis where there was an absence of data, assumptions have been made on inputs into the consumer risk assessment.  The UK submitted new data to CRD in July 2017 by the Task Force, but it was reportedly not possible to submit this data into the EU review. Moreover, it has not been possible to take into account the ways potatoes are consumed. This results in a calculated exceedance of the Acute Reference Dose (ARfD).  

Further information and resources are available via the Potato Industry CIPC Stewardship Group.

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