Thanks for your support in our battle to Stop Poison Poultry!

Thanks for your support in our battle to Stop Poison Poultry!

We are thrilled to announce that more than 30,000 of our fabulous supporters signed our Stop Poison Poultry petition calling on UK supermarkets to remove wildlife killing pesticides from soya supply chains.

More than 1,800 of you also sent an email to one or more of the supermarket CEOs or Managing Directors, letting them know you’d signed our petition asking them to take action to address the shocking impact of highly hazardous pesticides in soya supply chains.

Earlier today, with Soil Association colleagues and local supporters, I was proud to represent all of you in a “handover” of our petition at the Asda store in Bedminster, Bristol, handing in a letter to customer services, addressed to Asda’s owners, Zuber and Mohsin Issa. The letter reiterated our shared concerns about the impact of dangerous chemicals used in soya farming in Latin America on wildlife, people and ecosystems. We managed to capture the moment on video! A copy of the letter has also been sent to Aldi, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

Thanks so much again to all of you who supported our campaign and went out of your way to help us make it a success. You were in good company with celebrities Deborah Meaden, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Chris Packham and Professor of Biology and author Dave Goulson, also supporting our campaign.

Now we’re meeting with the supermarkets to ask them to take action! It’s incredibly helpful to be able to report such an amazing response to our campaign when we talk to them. It truly demonstrates public concern and support for action.

"Please reconsider your campaign against highly hazardous pesticides"

Not everyone seemed to share our concerns about the devastating impact of pesticides used on soya crops fed to chickens in UK intensive systems. A week before our campaign launched on the 25th April, we were contacted by the Brazilian Ambassador in London, asking us to “reconsider” campaigning against highly hazardous pesticides that are poisoning people, bees and tropical wildlife in the Amazon and other ecosystems in Brazil, noting that the use of chemicals banned for use in the UK and EU “should not be a cause for concern”.

The numbers speak differently. There are 70,000 pesticide-related poisonings being documented among humans each year in Brazil, with public health authorities in the country warning that pesticides should be more tightly regulated.

Furthermore, it’s estimated that over a 5-year period from 2013 to 2017, more than 1 billion bees were lost in Brazil, primarily as a result of pesticide use. Birds, bats, mammals, amphibians and fish are also under threat from the use of highly hazardous pesticides on soya farms. And yet President Bolsonaro is pushing forward with efforts to weaken, not strengthen, regulations addressing pesticide use in Brazil.

What have the supermarkets said?

The supermarkets, at least, are acknowledging the problem. In early 2022, we surveyed them about pesticides in their soya supply chains. Responses were received from Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. No response was received from Asda and Iceland.

All the supermarkets have policies in place to address pesticide use on the produce they sell in store. But these policies do not monitor or reduce the pesticides applied to soya as animal feed, including those classified as highly hazardous, possible endocrine disruptors or carcinogens posing a threat to human health or those recognised as toxic to bees.

All eight supermarkets who responded to our survey outlined the challenge they faced over transparency in soya supply chains, noting that it’s not possible for them to monitor pesticide use at farm level. All eight spoke for the need to improve transparency, outlining actions they were taking to address the challenge. This included their involvement in industry bodies such as the Retail Soy Group and the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya, who we are also talking to and seeking help to address our concerns.

Eight of the supermarkets we surveyed (Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose) are members of the Retail Soy Group and were represented in a response to a consultation to update the UK Feed Materials Assurance Scheme (FEMAS) to include requirements restricting the use of highly hazardous pesticides. We hope this will bear fruit and lead to more stringent limits on the use of these dangerous chemicals.

Although it was not covered by the survey, the majority of responding supermarkets spoke positively of the need for alternative feed to soya and about varying efforts they are making with suppliers to try to achieve this. We have produced a guide on the future of poultry feed, promoting the use of UK and EU-grown peas and beans. We are seeking support for research and the development of a market for these crops from UK supermarkets, alongside action on the other solutions proposed in our report for both supermarkets and the UK government.

Supermarkets are taking small steps towards supporting alternatives to soya and improving transparency in soya supply chains but action needs to step up if we are to achieve a supply chain free of highly hazardous pesticides by 2030. With the weight of your support behind us, we will continue to push for commitments and action towards this goal.

Please support our Stop Poison Poultry campaign with a donation, so that we can pressurise:

  • Supermarkets into cleaning their supply chains, of soya livestock feed associated with poisonous pesticides.
  • UK buying power and influence to support a transition to more nature-friendly production.
  • The UK Government to prohibit companies operating in the UK from selling highly hazardous pesticides abroad.
  • The UK Government to commit to a pesticide reduction target in line with the Global Biodiversity Framework, which is being put forward for agreement at CoP15.