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The Pesticide Footprint calculator

Pioneering new tool puts pesticide monitoring in the hands of consumers
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Wheat being harvested on the South Downs at sunset, England, UK

The world’s first Pesticide Footprint calculator has been unveiled in a collaboration between the corporate foundation of Ecotone, Europe’s leading organic food producer and NGO the Solagro Association.

Similar to carbon footprint calculation, the new tool can tell users how many pesticides they are consuming in their everyday foods.

Foods screened for pesticides

The calculator offers a concrete, simple and quick overview of square metres of land preserved or contaminated by pesticides through the nation’s food choices.

More than 30 foods are screened, including the 10 most commonly consumed in the region (cereals, potatoes, wine, sugar, apples, etc.).

The aim is to encourage consumers to make informed choices, thereby helping to preserve biodiversity and protect the ecosystem.

Going global

Initially launched in France, the ambition is to create a model that can be rolled out in other international markets.

The pioneers behind the project, Ecotone and agro-practice consultants, Solagro, both have ongoing commitments to biodiversity-positive farming practices – offering effective alternatives for consumers concerned about their health and the environment.

The launch of the pesticide calculator coincides with the new publication of Ecotone’s latest Impact Report.

In the report, Ecotone shared an extract from its outstanding B Corp audit, where it was praised  for its progress and success on fostering biodiversity preservation.

It says the work will have ‘a profound impact on the ability to track pesticides’ and protect ecosystems.

‘At Ecotone, we firmly believe that preserving biodiversity is both an individual and a collective duty. This Pesticide Footprint Calculator aims to make consumers aware of the real impact of their consumption habits on their health and their environment. By opting for plant-based organic products in particular, we can collectively reverse the current course of events and preserve the richness of our ecosystem today and for future generations.’

Chairman of Ecotone

How to protect biodiversity

Ecotone’s latest impact report identifies three major changes in our consumption habits that can help to protect, grow and cherish biodiversity.

The first is eating organic food to reduce the pressure on biodiversity. On average, organically farmed plots contain 50% more animals and 30% more different species.

The second is eating more (organic) plants to limit the carbon impact of intensive livestock farming and limit imported deforestation.

The final recommendation is to eat a wide range of species to restore crop biodiversity and the resilience of agrosystems. In reality, only nine plant varieties (maize, soya, rice, potatoes, wheat, palm oil, cane sugar, beet sugar and manioc) make up the majority of human food.

Species in decline

70% of vertebrate animals have disappeared in 50 years, 80% of insects in our fields and 60% of farmland birds have disappeared since the 1980s.

Intensive farming practices and the mass use of synthetic chemical pesticides are recognised as one of the main causes of this decline.

Until now it has not been possible to calculate our ‘pesticide footprint’, yet a reduction in the use of harmful pesticides is more important than ever when considering the rapid decline in global biodiversity.

UK pesticide data

The methodology and open-access data that fuel the calculator in France are based on the work carried out during the launch of the first French Pesticide Map, unveiled by the Ecotone Foundation and Solagro in June 2022.

Since then, it attracted 400,000 website visits, which is over 1,000 visits per day.

‘Our next step would be to bring the calculator to a UK audience. Currently the UK lacks the volume of open source data to implement a similar tool – but we’re on a mission to address this for a multi-national rollout once the data becomes available.’

Chairman of Ecotone

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