As the first year of The Pesticide Collaboration draws to a close, we wanted to do a “Roundup” of some highlights so far.

A huge thanks to everyone who has reached out, chipped in, and been a part of The Pesticide Collaboration work through 2021. Here are a few highlights of the past twelve months:

Emergency authorisation

The year kicked off with quite a bang when the government announced a decision to grant an emergency derogation – allowing sugar beet producers to use seeds treated with the bee-toxic neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. Forty organisations, academics and individuals – spanning health and environmental concerns – signed onto a joint open letter, gaining media attention and demonstrating the strength of public concern.

Cold weather in January & February reduced pest levels which prevented the use of the thiamethoxam-treated seeds for this year. Both the Health & Safety Executive, and Expert Committee on Pesticides have recommended against using the treated seeds for the 2022 season. We’re yet to hear a government decision, but hope the strength of feeling against the 2021 announcement, alongside expert recommendations against approval, will make them less likely to authorise.

National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides

Over 35,000 direct e-mails, a joint submission representing just under 3.5 million UK citizens, and a lot of petition signatures… Defra have been remarking on the unprecedented response to the NAP consultation all year. Armed with our three key asks echoed across various submissions, (an ambitious reduction target; uptake of integrated pest management (IPM); phase out and ban of pesticides in certain areas), we’re hopeful that Defra will publish a final NAP that reflects the gear change necessary to address our biodiversity crisis, climate emergency, and better protect human health.

We look forward to seeing the finalised NAP in Spring 2022 (she says optimistically!!!)

Environmental Land Management Schemes

The Sustainable Farming Incentive in England has generally been met with disappointment across the board, from both the farming community and NGOs. That said, we’re pleased that with some concerted pressure and continued conversations with Defra, there will be an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) standard developed and rolled out in 2023. Although we know IPM needs to be mainstreamed across the various standards, we hope that its inclusion (and some robust development of the standard itself), can be a marker in the road towards more sustainable agriculture systems in the UK, with massively reduced pesticide use and harms as a result.

Honourable mentions

Petition to ban urban and garden pesticides – launched in August by Professor Goulson, and shared by many folks across The Pesticide Collaboration.

Women’s Health Strategy – in our effort to get pesticide harms addressed by UK health institutions, we were glad to make a joint submission to the Women’s Health Strategy.

National Food Strategy – as the white paper is developed, we’re keen to see pesticide harms and use addressed in the link between our farming and food systems.

Looking ahead to 2022, there’s lots to be hopeful about. In these crucial first years out of the EU, as the UK sets up its own pesticide regime, we’ve made our voices heard and have a lot of good work to build on.
Thanks for all the support, input, advice and collaboration through 2021. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together in the upcoming year.