Trade Organisations

OATA fighting for future of popular pond product

Popular algae control product barley straw will be removed from shelves this autumn if the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association’s (OATA) fight to exempt it from the Biocides Regulation is unsuccessful.

Despite assurances from European Commission officials to OATA that the organic substance wouldn’t be included, pouches of barley straw and bottles of extract are due to be affected by the aforementioned EU regulation this September.

OATA says its inclusion the regulation is “frankly bonkers” because tonnes of barley straw is used to control algae in reservoirs every year, a practise that will not be covered by the new law.

When barley straw is sold as a product to control algae in ponds it is classed as biocide. Therefore, manufacturers will have to spend thousands to prove its safety, which will prove too expensive to continue its production. Unfortunately, without proving its safety it will be illegal for retailers to sell the product.

OATA chief executive Keith Davenport remarked: “It just seems frankly bonkers that tonnes of barley straw can be put into the water that eventually comes out of our taps to drink but we’ll no longer be able to put a small pouch of it into our garden ponds.”

“We couldn’t believe it when we saw barley straw had been included in the new regulation because during discussions in 2005 officials in the European Commission said barley straw would be excluded when the new law was drawn up. But this hasn’t happened and it’s not even included in Annex 1 which lists products where a simplified authorisation procedure might be used.

Manufacturers face a mountain of paperwork to prove this product is safe to use in a garden pond. It’s going to be just too expensive to do that which means from September it’ll be illegal to sell it. Yet the water companies can continue to put tonnes of barley straw into water reservoirs because they buy straw direct from farmers who are not selling it as a way to control algae. That simply doesn’t make sense.”

OATA is worried that with such a small window of opportunity there won’t be enough time to mobilise support for the campaign.

“We have asked our members to write to their MPs and we are also lobbying the Health and Safety Executive and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills,” Davenport continued.

“Including barley straw in this regulation is effectively strangling this product to death with red tape and it adds nothing to public safety, which is after all the intent behind the regulation.”

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