Delegates at a Royal Society of Medicine conference have heard new evidence that suggests pesticide use has seen a massive increase in the UK over the last 40 years, with a potential impacts on human health. This is in sharp contrast to the claim by the pesticide industry that use has halved.
wheat, potatoes and onions
Using data extracted for the first time from their records by FERA Science Ltd, who hold UK Government data on pesticide use in farming, the research has found that pesticide active ingredients applied to three British crops have increased between 6 and 18 times.
The data covered British staples wheat, potatoes and onions. Far from a 50% cut, increase in active ingredients applied to these crops range from 480% to 1,700% over the last 40-odd years.
‘Supermarkets recognise there is a problem with some pesticides. No farmer likes to spray, but if he is dependent on making money it is very difficult to give up that spray. That is the circular situation we get ourselves into because use of pesticides is embedded in the farming system.’
PROFESSOR CARLO LEIFERT
Director, Centre for Organics Research (Southern Cross University, Australia) and research presenter
Low doses a health risk
As well as hearing this new evidence on increased pesticide use in the UK, the conference heard new scientific evidence from around the world showing that very low doses of pesticides, well below official ‘safety’ levels, pose a significant risk to public health from pesticides in our food supply.
Unlike medicines, which are rigorously tested even after they gain clearance for use, there is no follow up once a pesticide has been approved, as recently pointed out by the Department of the Environment’s Chief Scientist.
It is well known that some toxic chemicals accumulate in the environment and in our bodies. Repeated doses, no matter how small, will build up over a lifetime.