It has long been theorized that the use of certain pesticides has contributed to the declining bee population around the world. In order to counter and further prevent the detrimental effect to the UK’s ecosystems, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have issued a draft plan outlining the future of pesticide use in the UK.
The proposal, called the “UK national action plan for the sustainable use of pesticides”, is designed to invite views on the UK National Action Plan (NAP) for pesticides. It is the next stage in the implementation of the EU Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides which was transposed into UK law on July 18th by the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012. The entire regulation is designed to ensure that plant protection products can be used sustainably in the UK without causing harm to wildlife. It has been developed in consultation with stakeholders including members of the public, and has been met with approval by farming unions including the NFU.
Among DEFRA’s initiatives includes the continuing use of voluntary approaches to meet pesticide targets, and this has since come under fire for the lack of regulation. However, the ‘Voluntary Initiative’ is highlighted as a way to improve best practices without the need to regulate. In either light, there are those that say it is not enough.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth Nature Campaigner, said DEFRA should be looking to ban certain chemicals, such as neonicotinoids, which have been banned in France. “The proposals contain no real commitment to phase-out the most harmful pesticides or help farmers find alternatives,” she said.
“The NAP consultation document appears to take a scientific risk reduction approach to pesticide usage, and bases its recommendations accordingly. We feel that this is a positive move, as a holistic, science-led approach to the management of pesticides is the right course of action” said NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond. “In addition, the recognition of the high standards of pesticide stewardship by the farming sector is welcome and justified, as the agricultural industry already operates to world leading levels of stewardship.
“We will be submitting a response to the consultation that outlines where we feel that the NAP draft can be improved, but overall we feel that the current draft is sensible and well thought out.”