24 October 1997

Fines increase for negligent pesticide use

MAGISTRATES have been clamping down on farmers found guilty of negligent pesticide use and have increased fines by almost 10% in the past year, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

Figures released this week revealed that the average fine rose by £50 to £583 for the 11 successful prosecutions brought by the HSE under pesticide legislation in 1996/97.

The prosecutions stemmed from 204 complaints from the public, up 21% from the previous year, about pesticide drift during crop spraying over the 12 months to Mar 31. The rise in complaints could be due to the publics greater understanding of pesticide use, the HSE believed.

Analysis of incidents over the past two years showed the most common type of pesticides involved were fungicides (35% of all active ingredients), while the most common chemical types were carbamate (10%), organophosphates and pyrethroids (8% each).

Feasibility study

David Mattey, HSE chief agricultural inspector, said the feasibility study announced last year into a possible new way of monitoring the health of pesticide users was making good progress.

It began in September last year when questionnaires were sent to a sample of 4000 pesticide users. The study will look for any evidence of chronic ill-health related to pesticide use and is expected to be released early next year.

Stuart Smith, HSE policy adviser, said the executive was also playing an active role in the Pesticides Forum – an independent think tank looking at the effects of minimising pesticide use, and integrated crop management systems.

&#8226 HSE launched a series of educational teaching packs on safe working methods for agricultural colleges on Wednesday. &#42