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Government's pesticide response a vote of confidence in self-regulation
21/07/06

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.

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crop spraying

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 health.

“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.”

Notes:
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 in humans.
  • 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.
  • Amenity 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 of outbreaks.

link Government Backs Union Stance on Pesticides
link Defra consults on GM coexistance measures
link Search for Citrus Longhorn Beetles
link Crop Market Update from Gleadell

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