Pesticides are killing wildlife and damaging our health
Our food system is killing itself. Perfectly. The past 70 years of pesticide overuse have seen a catastrophic decline in farming’s natural life support systems – the bees, bugs and rivers – but each step has taken a generation to notice.
Pesticides harm millions of farm workers worldwide, particularly in the poorest countries, and kill thousands. The chronic effects on better protected farmers and on people eating food produced with toxic chemicals remain scandalously under-researched, though there is strong cause for concern, especially for children.
It was more than 20 years after Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ that the UK banned DDT. Since then, history has repeated itself many times. The focus of our battle is now neonicotinoids, a powerful class of systemic pesticide that destroys pollinators and, some evidence indicates, may also affect human health. A temporary ban, in the face of fierce lobbying by their makers, suggests they are on the way out. Let’s make them the last poison.
Thousands of organic farmers show you can already farm profitably without pesticides. Through Innovative Farmers, part of our Duchy Future Farming Programme, we are helping them and other farmers find even better ways of doing this. This isn’t simply about substituting other tools, like biological controls; it is also about developing more diverse farming systems, for example bringing different crops and even trees into farms.
Our call to get the herbicide glyphosate out of bread – it is increasingly sprayed on crops just before harvest to dry them out – was backed by the European Parliament. We are also working with leading scientists whose research is influencing the way pesticides are regulated. For example, research we supported by Prof Dave Goulson has found that neonicotinoids are seeping through soil to poison the wildflowers and hedges that policies have encouraged as havens for wildlife.
Break the pesticide cycle!
The neonicotinoid ban and mounting pressure on glyphosate – the world’s most widely used herbicide – signal an unprecedented chance to break the cycle on pesticides.Please donate now for a healthier future