Spray guidelines wont cut use

26 April 2000

‘Spray guidelines won’t cut use’

By Johann Tasker

VOLUNTARY guidelines proposed by agrochemical manufacturers will fail to reduce the amount of pesticides used by farmers, conservationists have warned.

The claim follows the submission to the government of proposals for a voluntary code by the British Agrochemicals Association (BAA).

The association is opposed to the introduction of a pesticide tax, which is being considered by government officials during a three-month consultation.

Instead, it prefers the idea of reducing the effect of pesticides on the environment by issuing better advice to farmers and agronomists.

Conservation groups, however, are in favour of a tax, claiming that a voluntary code will not reduce the impact of pesticides on the environment.

The Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL), a consortium of eight rural-interest groups, has urged the government to seriously consider introducing a tax.

It will support a voluntary package only if it would have the same effect as a tax in reducing the impact of pesticides for the benefit of the environment.

Tony Burton, WCL deputy chairman, claimed that a tax would be simple to implement and succeed in reducing pesticide use.

He has called for a meeting with Environment Minister Michael Meacher after submitting a document outlining the benefits of introducing a tax.

Mr Burton said: “We are concerned that some of the most important issues will not be adequately addressed by the voluntary route, and look to the government to take a strong lead.”

Government statistics released this week show the number of incidents of animals poisoned by pesticide misuse rose from 23 in 1997 to 49 in 1998.

However, the number of incidents resulting from the deliberate misuse of pesticides fell from 125 to 96 in the same period.


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