The Government’s response to the Royal Commission on Environmental
Pollution’s (RCEP) report on so-called bystander exposure
to pesticides is a vote of confidence in the voluntary measures
that farmers are taking to reduce the risks, says the NFU.
In its response, the Government rejected further statutory controls
on pesticide use, in favour of a voluntary approach that allows
for flexible and innovative solutions.
The NFU has also pledged its full co-operation both in fostering
an informed dialogue with people who are concerned about pesticide
use and in resolving any problems at local level.
NFU Vice President Paul Temple said: “We recognise people
have genuine concerns about pesticide use and we will do everything
we can to ensure those concerns are addressed.
“But the clear lesson of the last few years is that, as
the Government has now acknowledged, far more can be achieved by
voluntary schemes such as farm assurance and the Voluntary Initiative
than would ever be possible with yet more regulation.
“That is a real vote of confidence in the industry and the
way in which it operates.
“Pesticides are a vital ingredient in modern farming systems.
Not only do they protect crops from pests and diseases, but they
also protect health, by enabling us to produce food that is free
of moulds, mycotoxins, insects and other pests that can cause ill
“There are a small number of complaints about health problems
associated with pesticide drift and they do need to be taken seriously.
But the way to address those concerns is through a combination
of information and action at a local level, not by imposing a disproportionate
amount of cost and regulation on an industry that has shown it
is more than capable of regulating itself in this area.
“Thanks to research work, such as that being carried out
at Silsoe, we do know a great deal about the science of spray drift,
and it is important that industry initiatives are based on that.
“In the wider context, this response appears to be a clear
signal, and a very encouraging one, of what the Government means
by “Better Regulation”. We look forward to a similar
approach being applied in many other areas of agriculture and horticulture.”
Benefits of pesticides to society:
- Continuity of food supply - pesticides help ensure global
food supply is protected. Without pesticides an estimated 35
per cent of world harvest would be lost, with more lost in store.
- Food safety and hygiene - pesticides enable food to be free
of moulds, fungi (mycotoxins), microbes, insects and other pests
that cause contamination of food that could cause ill health
- Food quality - food can be produced free from damage by
pests and diseas
- Food availability and affordability
- pesticides increase yields and decrease price consumer pays
for food. This is especially important for fruit and vegetables
- often particularly vulnerable to pest and disease attack -
as pesticides allow more people to eat more of these foods.
and recreational facilities – they allow control
of pests in parks, lakes, verges and buildings to protect the
public and maintain the utility of the area.
- Human and animal disease control
- control of biting and parasitic insects such as mosquitoes
and ticks has allowed protection from major diseases that kill
millions of people and livestock world wide, as well as prevention
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