Pesticides and other agricultural chemicals cause huge damage to the UK’s environment, particularly to the water courses that flow through farmland, but they are also currently an integral part of the food industry.

The new Government strategy Pesticides and the Environment: a strategy for the sustainable use of plant protection products attempts to address the needs of both the environment and industry.

The strategy tackles the use and environmental impact of plant protection products and outlines action plans to look at problems associated with water pollution, damaging biodiversity, the availability of pesticides, use at amenity sites and by amateurs.

This particular strategy is designed to limit the environmental impact of pesticides, not any impact they might have on human health.

It does not cover biocides such as wood preservatives or disinfectants and does not cover veterinary medicines likely to impact on the environment such as sheep dip.

Neither does it seek to cover the protection of those who are using the pesticides, bystanders or those living alongside agricultural land that has been sprayed.

The impact of pesticides on human health is the subject of a recent study by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (see related Story) and the Government says it will consider whether to expand the scope of the strategy to take this into account at a later date.

The strategy is designed to feed into the goals outlined in Defra’s five year plan, namely to protect the countryside and its natural resources, help to make agricultural methods sustainable and break the link between economic growth and the degradation of land.

Lord Bach, Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, said: “I am pleased to announce the publication of this strategy, which follows a public consultation last year.

“It will provide a framework for reducing the impact of pesticides on the environment, beyond that already provided by the rigorous approvals process.

“The action plans within the strategy will now be taken forward, which will allow further involvement of a wide range of stakeholders in this important area.”

by Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie