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US potato industry concerned that Europe failed to renew CIPC

Idaho potato industry leaders fear they may be adversely affected by Europe’s recent decision not to renew certification of CIPC – a chemical used globally to inhibit tubers from sprouting in storage.

Chloropropham, also known as CIPC, is the world’s most popular potato sprout inhibitor, applied by farmers since 1952. It’s also been used as a plant growth regulator and herbicide in alfalfa, onion and sugar beet production, writes John O’Connell in the Idaho State Journal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency renewed CIPC for another 15 years at about the same time as Europe opted against renewal earlier this summer. Nonetheless, chemical company representatives anticipate Europe’s decision will have ripple effects for American farmers.

Europe is a relatively small market for U.S. spud exports, but global quick-service restaurants and other major customers may wish to enact consistent policies covering everywhere they do business, explained Addie Waxman, global director of research and development with 1,4 Group.

“I think that pressure will come from their customers: The McDonald’s and Burger Kings of the world will want to have a global message about the chemicals on their product,” said Waxman, whose company distributes CIPC.

“They can’t have customers in Europe having a certain chemical regime and then customers in the U.S. having a completely different one. If they’re a family friendly restaurant, they need to be sending out a similar message to all of their consumers.”

Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, said the U.S. potato industry is paying close attention to the developing story, which could force farmers to switch to less effective, more costly alternatives.

Terry Kippley, who oversees CIPC registration for Aceto Life Sciences LLC says about 75 percent of European growers use CIPC. Even after they turn to other sprout inhibitors, such as mint oil, Kippley said CIPC chemical residue from storage facilities could pose a lingering problem for them.

Read the full story by John O’Connell in the Idaho State Journal here

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