Editorial PN85 E-mail

It’s time for our annual Rachel Carson Memorial Lecture which will be delivered this year by Dr Pierre Mineau, of Environment Canada (pages 12- 18). In his lecture Dr Mineau will document what has happened since Rachel Carson first highlighted the effects of organochlorine pesticides on birds in her ground-breaking 1962 book Silent Spring. Since then most organochlorines have been taken off the market. But countless birds are still dying. Dr Mineau takes a look at the pesticides which replaced them, the organophosphates and carbamates, less persistent but more acutely toxic to birds. Some governments have been quick to act to limit their damage. Others have been slow. He notes the global nature of the problem and suggests ways to move forward.

We report on recent developments in EU regulations. Pesticides used outside of agriculture are known as biocides and these chemcials have become a part of everyday life. But what is their impact on our health and on the environment and how should they be regulated? A draft regulation to review current EU biocides legislation was published in June by the EU Commission. PAN Germany’s criticisms and recommendations for this draft (pages 5-7) focus around its failure to make significant steps towards the protection of the environment and human health, not least as it would take 15 years to implement at its current rate of progress. The recent Regulation on Plant Protection Products and the Pesticide Framework Directive, the successful passing of which has been featured in previous Pesticides News issues, provide useful models and PAN hopes the new biocide regulations can adopt some of their more progressive features.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a World Heritage-listed ecosystem under threat from a range of environmental insults including climate change and pollution. A large number of watersheds drain directly into the GBR lagoon and sugarcane and beef production are key industries in the area. New research has shown that agricultural herbicides applied by these industries have been found in the GBR lagoon at concentrations capable of harming key marine plants.We report on progress towards changing practices to protect this important site and the biodiversity it supports (pages 8-11).

We report on how PAN UK and its partners are helping to educate the farmers and decision makers of tomorrow about pesticide issues as part of the Africa Stockpiles Programme. In Nigeria, a programme of education has drawn enthusiastic support from teachers and pupils. A baseline survey revealed gaps in the pupils knowledge of pesticides and their effects. The survey results helped in the design of a manual produced to train teachers to deliver lessons on pests and pesticides. After the training,many students signed up to clubs to enable them to carry forward actions around the knowledge they had gained (pages 19-20).

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