No need to change pesticide rules – Defra
THERE is no compelling evidence to justify further regulations and voluntary controls to improve the safety of pesticide use in Britain, the Government has concluded.
UK pesticides safety standards are already amongst the highest in Europe, according to Defra, and only minor changes will be necessary to meet new requirements under the EU Thematic Strategy on Pesticides.
But The Government’s initial response to the consultation on implementing the EU rules, published today (Wednesday, December 15), has angered campaigners who say sprays continue to cause a serious public health risk.
Lord Henley, Under-Secretary of State for Defra, assured campaigners the Government would continue to take a risk-based approach to minimising the impacts of pesticides to people or the environment and would take further action if the evidence became compelling.
“We have to protect the public and the environment from harm, and we’ll do so by following sound scientific and other robust evidence.
“By making a small number of changes to our existing approach, we can continue to help feed a growing global population with high-quality food that’s affordable, while minimising the risks of using pesticides,” he said.
Dr Anne Buckenham, Crop Protection Association director of policy, added the Government ‘clearly recognises the success and cost-effectiveness of our approach’ and promised to work with partners across Government, industry and the NGO community to ‘maintain and build on the high standards achieved’.
But Georgina Downs, from the UK Pesticides Campaign, said it was ‘outrageous’ to conclude there was no evidence to bring in new measures of protection.
She said: “The prohibition of the use of pesticides in the locality of homes, schools, children’s playgrounds, hospitals and public areas is absolutely crucial for public health protection, especially that of vulnerable groups.”
Ms Downs, who has a long running legal case against the UK Government over pesticides, said she would look at the Government’s response in more detail before considering ‘further legal challenges’.
The new legislation should be in place by November 2011.
The Government’s draft legislation will include:
- provisions for the Government to publish a National Action Plan that sets out how the UK will implement the EU legislation;
- some changes to the training and certification regime;
- a statutory regime for equipment testing; and
- a statutory regime restricting the sale of professional products to certified users.