DEFRA’s eagerly awaited publication of the strategy for the sustainable use of pesticides has met with a mixed reaction from parties on both sides of the debate.
The strategy, published last Thursday (23 March) aims to tackle the use and environmental impact of pesticides through promotion of action plans and improved advice to users.
The strategy is intended to:
Reduce the level of water pollution to meet the standards of the Water Framework Directive. Reverse any loss of biodiversity suffered due to the use of plant protection products. Encourage the introduction of alternative crop treatments. Promote best practice in the amenity sector. Ensure appropriate disposal of amateur products. Maintain the availability of a suitable range of pest control products and techniques.
Peter Sanguinetti, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, welcomed the strategy.
“We are particularly pleased with the assurance that the government will encourage voluntary approaches, such as the VI, to deliver results where possible.”
Mr Sanguinetti added that EC Directive (91/414/EEC) already places strict environmental standards on pesticides.
However, others were not so impressed. Georgina Downs of UK Pesticides Campaign, which is dedicated to protecting the health of rural residents and communities by calling for a ban on the use of pesticides, was disappointed with the government document.
“The government has yet again completely ignored one of the most important stakeholders in this issue, rural residents and communities,” said Ms Downs.
The Pesticide Action Network also expressed concern at the perceived lack of consideration of their impact on human health.
“We are dismayed that the Pesticide Safety Directorate is treating health as a bolt-on issue in relation to this Strategy, and that there will be a delay of another year before it is even considered for inclusion,” said Alison Craig of PAN UK.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds also expressed its disappointment with the strategy.
Jim Densham, agriculture policy officer at the RSPB said:
“There are no targets for reducing pesticide use and too much emphasis on achieving results through undeveloped action plans.”