Growth regulators

Stem-shortening growth regulators inhibit the growth of grain stems, reducing the risk of crop lodging. We work to ensure that the use of chemicals in cultivation is sustainable, to minimize environmental and health-related risks.

Growth regulators are used to inhibit the growth of grain stems, reducing the risk of crop lodging which leads to difficulty harvesting and harvests of lower quality. In Sweden, stem-shortening growth regulators have previously only been allowed to use on rye, which has longer stems than other grain types. Legislation has been less restrictive in the rest of the EU. Since 2011, use of stem-shortening growth regulators on wheat, barley and oats is permitted in Sweden as well. 

There is an ongoing discussion in the industry and in media about traces of pesticides in foods as well as other environmental and health aspects related to pesticides. When it comes to grain, the discussion is primarily focused on the use of stem-shortening growth regulators, since they are basically the only chemicals sometimes found in detectable levels. In Sweden the National Food Agency tests for traces of pesticides in vegetable and animal-based foods annually, to ensure they don’t contain amounts that are harmful or too high. These tests show measurable levels of growth regulators in certain cases, mainly in rye products. However, the levels are way below current limits for foods. 

Lantmännen handles large amounts of grain and therefore needs to ensure clear standpoints and responsible handling with regards to growth regulators in different grain flows.

In the Swedish National Food Agency’s 2013 control of pesticide traces in foods a total of 113 samples of Swedish wheat and 35 samples of Swedish rye were analyzed. The majority of the rye samples contained traces of growth regulators, however the levels were way below the allowed maximum (no more than 30% of maximum levels). No traces of pesticides were found in the samples of Swedish wheat.

Source: Swedish National Food Agency report ”Kontroll av bekämpningsmedelsrester I livsmedel 2013”.

Do you want to read more about pesticide traces in foods? We recommend that you visit the Swedish National Food Agency website


Swedish food products without growth regulators

We work to ensure a sustainable use of growth regulators and to minimize environmental and health risks. As a security measure based on the background described above, Lantmännen has chosen to secure that grain raw materials used for flour and other grain products that you find in Swedish food stores from our own brands Axa and Kungsörnen are produced with grain that has been grown without stem-shortening agents.

Regarding grain that is sold to other markets, our customers define any limitations to use of stem-shortening growth regulators, a part from what is stipulated by law. Among our different customers and markets there is a demand both for so called standard quality, meaning use of growth regulators is accepted, as well as of grain 100% free from growth regulators.

Stem-shortening growth regulators is today an important issue in the dialogue with our many food customers, for example bakeries and other food companies.