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Experts call for the UK Government to ban urban and garden pesticides

5th August 2021

A new petition launched by Professor Dave Goulson and supported by a host of conservation and health charities is calling for the UK Government to ban the use of pesticides in urban areas & end their sale for use in gardens. The petition’s launch coincides with the publication on 5 August of “Silent Earth”, a new book which outlines how the decline of wild bees and other insects are a potential catastrophe for us all.

Professor Dave Goulson, author of “Silent Earth” and creator of the petition, said “It is simply crazy to spray poisons in our streets, parks & gardens for cosmetic purposes, where they harm bees & other wildlife & pose a risk to human health. We rely on insects to deliver a range of vital “ecosystem services” – such as pollination, and recycling of corpses & dung. They are food for many larger organisms. Without them, our ecosystem will collapse.

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Joint submission to the Women’s Health Strategy Consultation

14th May 2021

Pesticides and their impacts on human health in general and women in particular are poorly understood and largely neglected by UK health bodies.

It is widely recognised that women, pregnant women and unborn children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides. In particular it is known that pesticides can pass through the mother into the unborn child and can also be passed on in breast milk. As an example a study published in 2020 showed that prenatal exposure to pesticides could result in holoprosencephaly (HPE).

Several studies have also shown that exposure to pesticides can elevate the risk of developing cancers, including breast cancer. A study published in 2019 showed a clear correlation between the use of pesticides and elevated cancer risk in women either working in agriculture or living in agricultural areas.

The Pesticide Collaboration is calling on the Department of Health to instigate a number of measures to focus on the potential health impacts of pesticides on women;

  • Develop a research programme that will look specifically at linkages between pesticide exposure and chronic health impacts including data disaggregated by sex
  • Ensure that all routes of exposure are investigated, including dietary and occupational pesticide exposure
  • Undertake studies into the impact of prenatal pesticide exposure on children
  • Focus specifically on the impact of pesticide exposure for those that are at highest risk of exposure either through occupation or from residing in agricultural areas
  • Investigate the impact of pesticide exposure for rural residents with a focus on women
  • Undertake research into the issue of low-dose and combinatory pesticide exposures with a particular focus on endocrine disrupting pesticides and their subsequent chronic effects on women, and children born to women that have been exposed to pesticides
FULL LIST OF SIGNATORIES

Unprecedented support for the UK to drastically reduce pesticide use

5th March 2021

Unprecedented support for the UK to drastically reduce pesticide use

PAN UK and RSPB mobilised 45 organisations and individual farmers and academics to respond collectively to the UK Government’s public consultation on the revised UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP).
Find further details in this blog post by Pesticide Action Network UK.

FULL RESPONSE TO THE NAP

Organisations unite against neonicotinoids decision

12th January 2021

Rt Hon George Eustice,
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

12th January 2021

Dear Secretary of State,

We are extremely disappointed to hear that the UK Government has decided to grant an emergency derogation allowing sugar beet producers to use seeds treated with the bee-toxic neonicotinoid thiamethoxam.

Thiamethoxam was banned for all outdoor uses by the EU in 2018 because of the risk it poses to bees and other vital pollinator species. The UK Government supported the ban with then Defra Secretary Michael Gove saying that, “Unless the scientific evidence changes, the government will maintain these increased restrictions post-Brexit”. The UK Government’s decision to support the neonics ban was based on advice from its own advisory body on pesticides which stated that “scientific evidence now suggests the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoids – particularly to our bees and pollinators – are greater than previously understood, supporting the case for further restrictions.” The risk of this decision to sugar beet yields was also understood and taken into account.

Since then, the body of evidence detailing the negative impact of neonicotinoids on not just bees and pollinators but also birds and other wildlife has only grown. Allowing farmers to use these harmful pesticides ignores the science and seriously undermines the UK Government’s own objective to leave the environment in a better state than it found it.

The mitigation measures suggested to reduce the impact on bees from this decision includes increasing the use of herbicides to destroy flowering plants so that bees are not attracted to the fields, therefore further damaging important wildlife habitat such as hedgerows and adjacent meadows. There is also no mitigation proposed for the predicted harm caused to aquatic life as surface waters are polluted. This derogation harms wildlife without actually providing an exit strategy from reliance on banned pesticides for sugar beet farmers.

The government has an opportunity here to take a different course, to help farmers tackle the ecological emergency and adapt to climate change. As a group of academics, farmers, faith leaders and individuals and organisations representing a broad range of environmental and health concerns we urge the UK government to reverse this decision and instead invest in supporting farmers to research and adopt non-chemical alternatives to farm with nature instead of against it.

We also request that you publish the evidence that led to this derogation being approved, when a similar application in 2018 was rejected on environmental grounds.

Yours sincerely, and on behalf of the organisations and individuals below,

FULL LIST OF SIGNATORIES
RESPONSE FROM THE GOVERNMENT