9 July 2001
FoE: Big stores lag in pesticide policy

By FWi staff

BRITAINS big five supermarkets are falling behind smaller competitors in efforts to reduce pesticide use, claim environmental campaigners.

None of the five — Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Safeway or Somerfield &#151: made the top places in a league table published by Friends of the Earth.

The Co-op, which has banned 24 pesticides from its produce, and publish residue test results, pipped Waitrose for the top spot.

The top two are closely followed by Marks and Spencer and Iceland in the FoE comparison of pesticide reduction strategies.

But the big five fared less well, said FoE.

It claimed that Asda is sliding down the table with Tesco also falling behind.

Sainsburys did slightly better, due to recent commitments to phase out some pesticides while FoE says Somerfield and Safeway remain “stuck in a rut”.

Criticisms included not making details of schemes or data of test results available.

Morrisons and Netto are branded “slackers” at the bottom of the table and accused of having no policy to reduce pesticide residues in their food.

Sandra Bell, Real Food Campaigner of Friends of the Earth said: “Shoppers will want to know that the Co-op and Waitrose are top of the pesticide league table.

They are taking real action over customer concerns about pesticide levels in our food. Other retailers should follow their lead.

When the Co-op announced its pesticide ban last week, other supermarkets said they had no plans to follow suit as they were satisfied with safety assurances.

A Sainsburys spokesman said some of the chemicals being banned by the Co-op had been outlawed by his store 15 years ago.

An Asda spokeswoman said the chain undertook regular testing and adhered to industry codes.

FoE analysed data from the annual report of the governments working party on pesticide residues (1999).

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