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Pesticides in the UK

Campaigners alarmed as government moves to remove all pesticide rules
Farmer spraying crops in Malton, North Yorkshire

Wildlife presenter, Strictly Come Dancing star and Buglife president Steve Backshall has expressed alarm at a government proposal to remove all pesticide regulation, putting bee populations, wildlife and human health in danger.

Wildlife NGOs, already extremely concerned at government inaction to reduce the harm pesticides cause to the environment, are shocked at new proposals in the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, introduced into Parliament by Secretary of State for Business Jacob Rees-Mogg, that would include the removal of all protection of wildlife and human health from pesticides in England, Wales and Scotland.

No protection from pesticides

The government missed commitments to introduce a National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides in 2018, and has repeatedly delayed the release of the plan.

In the meantime there has been no commitment to protect wildlife and humans from pesticides and the government has repeatedly overruled its independent expert panel to allow the use of banned pesticides considered to be causing harm – such as neonicotinoids on sugar beet.

All current pesticide laws would be revoked by the new Bill, meaning that there would be no scientific tests of the likely harm pesticides would cause and no way for government to restrict or ban harmful chemicals.

UK ‘moving backwards’

Instead of strengthening protections and reducing reliance on pesticides, the UK is moving backwards, undermining its goal to reverse biodiversity loss.

In contrast the EU has strengthened proposals to protect wildlife from pesticides, including putting forward new legislation that would reduce pesticide use by 50% and ban use entirely wherever endangered bee species live.

Unlike the UK, the EU and has already effectively banned the import of crops grown with the most harmful neonicotinoid insecticides.

‘In recent times increasing pesticide use has caused localised extinctions of bee populations and has make our rivers toxic, this is a time for our Government to protect wildlife and people from pesticide harm. I would urge our new govt to reconsider removing pesticide regulation.’

STEVE BACKSHALL
Wildlife presenter and Buglife president

Ironically, September 2022 marked the 60th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel

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