The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has attacked current risk assessments for chemicals used in UK farmland, claiming these are inadequate to guard wildlife.
The authors of the Pesticides and Wildlife: a decades old crisis study assert that, with more than half of farmland species in decline, urgent Government action is needed to persuade farmers to reduce their use of chemicals.
They add that the 150 chemicals employed in sufficient quantity to cover all UK farmland more than 10 times annually.
Said RSPB director for conservation Katie-Jo Luxton: “Many innovative farmers are finding ways to work with nature to reduce their reliance on pesticides while still producing healthy and profitable food.
“With the right support from Government many more farmers can be encouraged to do the same. With farmers’ help, we can halt wildlife decline and keep common species common and avoid extinction.”
The report makes five recommendations to Whitehall, including:
- Government commitment to pesticide reduction targets, addressing volume of usage and overall toxicity
- Subsidy for farmers and finance for training them, making use of post-Brexit environmental initiatives
- More R&D funding for alternatives to pesticides
- An improved pesticides approvals process
- Encouragement of public lobbying of councils to apply pesticides-free policies
The society added that there was a lack of published literature regarding the negative impact of many pesticides. A study of information about the 30 most commonly used products revealed nearly three quarters related to just four chemicals, with 16 pesticides allegedly never subject to a literature review.
In addition, there was a dearth of information regarding the ‘cocktail effects’ of the use of multiple chemicals, said the RSPB.
Laboratory News, 3-07-22