Whether it’s campaigning for pesticide-free towns, creating B-lines for insects, backing nature-friendly farming, gardening without pesticides, or making sure the UK sets an ambitious vision for pesticide reduction, there’s lots people can do to tackle and reduce pesticide harms in the UK.

Below are just three of the priorities The Pesticide Collaboration is working on at the moment:

  • An ambitious pesticide reduction target
  • Support for Integrated Pest Management
  • Phase out and ban of amenity & urban pesticides


The UK is currently revising its National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides. The most effective way to reduce pesticide harms is to reduce the use of pesticides in the first place. Setting a reduction target is not a new concept and has been shown to drive reductions in the use of pesticides in a number of other countries.

We want to see the UK Government introduce ambitious targets aimed at reducing pesticide use – taking into account both amount of pesticide and the risk/toxicity, or “toxic load”. Tackling both is important, as a risk reduction target will ensure that the most harmful pesticides to human health or the environment are prioritised for reduction. Meanwhile, a target for cutting overall use will ensure that indirect and poorly understood effects from pesticides are reduced.  A French study found that by using measures such as crop rotation, mechanical weeding and managing sowing dates, total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on either productivity or profitability on 59% of farms.

Reduction targets report
An ambitious reduction target


Farmers need support to make a transition towards a pesticide-free approach, at scale. No transition happens overnight. Currently, in the UK, the majority of farmers don’t have access to the advice, research or financial support they need to significantly reduce, let alone end, their use of pesticides.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to managing pests, diseases or unwanted plants under which chemical pesticides are used only as a last resort, if at all. IPM tackles pests and diseases through the use of a combination of different control methods, with an emphasis on the growth of a healthy crop, the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encouragement of natural pest control mechanisms. IPM strategies based on sound agroecological science, that use methods selected for the local context, can help prevent pest organisms from reaching levels where they start to cause economic damage to the farmer.

The UK Government has committed to “putting Integrated Pest Management at the heart of a holistic approach”. It now needs to develop, support and progress a system of crop protection that better protects people, wildlife and farmers. This should bring together agricultural, environmental, health, resistance management and economic policies.

Growing healthy nutritious food

Some of the measures to achieve this include (but are not limited to):

  1. Stronger commitment for and detail on how farmers will be supported via land management schemes to undertake IPM
  2. Creation of an independent advice and research facility for farmers and agronomists, to include an increase in funding for research into agroecological farming systems (including organic farming), to provide farmers with an alternative and reduce the reliance on chemicals.
  3. Development and adoption of a clear definition of what constitutes IPM and what practices cannot be counted as IPM.

Ultimately, a move to agroecology, which works with healthy functioning ecosystems and less external inputs, would protect the soils and lead to a more sustainable future for British farming.

Family sitting in pesticide-free park


People that live, work, study or play in our towns and cities are directly exposed to pesticides on a regular basis. Councils and other land managers spray pesticides in parks, playgrounds and other green spaces, road verges, pavements, around shopping centres, care homes, and schools, mostly to deal with unwanted vegetation. Pesticides used in UK towns and cities include developmental and reproductive toxins, neurotoxins and possible carcinogens.

Given that most urban amenity pesticide use is purely for cosmetic reasons, there is almost no justification for using pesticides in public urban spaces. In fact, there are a growing number of effective, affordable alternatives and many councils and other land managers throughout the UK have already gone pesticide-free. In particular, urban pesticides tend to be used in areas frequented by children such as parks, playgrounds and schools. Given that children are one of the groups most affected by exposure to pesticides, protecting their health should be a priority for the UK Government.

Got something to say on the above, or have an idea for collaborative work? Get in touch!