PAN-UK Delivers its Submission To The Environmental Audit Commitee PDF Print E-mail

PAN-UK delivers its Submission to the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into “the Future of the Natural Environment in the UK After the EU Referendum.”

Given our expertise, PAN UK’s submission focuses on the use and misuse of pesticides in UK agriculture and the impact on the natural environment. Here, we highlight opportunities to address these threats through changes to the current regulatory and subsidy systems once the UK leaves the EU.

PAN-UK would like to see Ecological Focus Areas including protection for permanent grassland and expanded crop rotation, stronger requirements of farmers for keeping the aquatic environment free from pollutants including pesticides and dedicated support for nature friendly farmers. This support should include incentives for reducing the use of pesticides, with the establishment of a proper monitoring system for pesticide application, plus increased support for farmer training, advice and experimentation in Integrated Pest Management methods. One of our key asks is that the UK Government provides much greater support for the organic sector in order to increase the area of land farmed organically.
Prosecution For Destruction of The Environment Is One Step Closer PDF Print E-mail
PAN-UK welcomes the news from The Hague this week that the  International Criminal court (ICC) will – for the first time – turn its attention to crimes that drive environmental damage.

This means that company executives (potentially including pesticide companies), politicians and other individuals could now be held criminally responsible under international law for crimes that lead to environmental destruction.

The ICC Prosecutor  has produced a new ‘Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritisation‘, which sets out the criteria it will use when choosing and ordering cases. The full policy can be found here but the key sections on land are as follows:
Paragraph 41 includes the wording “the Office will give particular consideration to prosecuting Rome Statute crimes that are committed by means of, or that result in, inter alia, the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land.”
Paragraph 7 - The Office will also seek to cooperate and provide assistance to States, upon request, with respect to conduct which constitutes a serious crime under national law, such as the illegal exploitation of natural resources, arms trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, financial crimes, land grabbing or the destruction of the environment.
The policy also contains a number of other mentions of crimes leading to environmental destruction.

PAN-UK has long argued that companies should be held accountable for the harm their products cause and has backed the barrister Polly Higgins in her campaign for a new crime of “Ecocide”. This change in policy is a big step towards this goal.
PAN UK is Dismayed at EU Licensing of New Bee-Toxic Insecticide PDF Print E-mail

The European Commission has licensed a completely new insecticide for use in Europe. Cyantraniliprole, like neonicotinoids, is a systemic insecticide and is highly toxic to bees.  PAN UK is dismayed that the EC has decided to allow such a bee-toxic pesticide onto the market. It seems that officials have learned nothing from the disastrous introduction of neonicotinoids which more and more studies are linking to large scale pollinator declines.

Cyantraniliprole is a systemic insecticide that works by affecting muscles in insects and eventually leads to death.  This unusual mode of action means that it is effective against some pests that have become resistant to other classes of insecticide.

Like neonicotinoid insecticides – three of which the EC banned in 2013 because of concerns over their impacts on bees (ref 2) – it is a systemic insecticide and will be applied as a seed dressing. This means it will be taken up into the body of a plant rendering the whole plant toxic to pests that feed on it. However, experience with neonicotinoids, has shown that non-target organisms like bees and wild pollinators can also be harmed by systemic insecticides.

Cyantraniliprole is highly toxic to bees and PAN UK is concerned that the introduction of a new systemic insecticide will further harm our populations of bees and wild pollinators. Earlier this month, a comprehensive, multi-year study showed that wild bees have suffered “long-term and large-scale declines” in their distribution and communities since the introduction of neonictinoids (ref 3)

Instead of introducing new chemicals to deal with the problems of pesticide resistance, PAN UK is encouraging the government to support farmers to adopt more sustainable approaches like integrated pest management, which can cut pesticide use.

PAN UK sets out its vision for UK agriculture outside the EU PDF Print E-mail

Brexit has major implications for UK agriculture. PAN UK is calling on the government to take this opportunity to create a new agricultural system that works for farmers and the environment by replacing the flawed common agricultural policy with a new system that rewards farmers for looking after our environment; gives smaller farmers a greater share of the subsidies; and supports organic agriculture. Brexit should not be an excuse to roll back environmental protection, in fact we should do more to boost biodiversity and cut pesticide use.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has big implications for British agriculture as the UK agricultural sector is heavily influenced by EU policy. Not only is it subject to EU laws – including the Habitats, Water Framework, and Sustainable Use [of pesticides] Directives – but it is also dependent on the convoluted and flawed subsidy regime that is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Unraveling this package is fraught with risks, but it also presents a unique opportunity to shape UK agriculture for a generation to come.

One of the key issues will be how any changes to the current regulations on pesticides are adapted. Defra has stated that “the UK government will also be reviewing pesticide rules as part of the preparation for EU exit.” It is vital that there is no weakening of existing regulations that are currently in place and that the UK develops a robust, sustainable pesticide regulatory system that ensures the most hazardous pesticides are taken out of use and that there is an overall goal of reducing significantly the use of all pesticide throughout UK agriculture.

Read our five-point plan (below) for a more sustainable UK farming sector below.

Download this file (Brexit PN 104.pdf)Brexit PN 104.pdf
The final nail in the coffin for neonicotinoids? PDF Print E-mail

picture of EU flagMore evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to large scale bee declines has been published adding more weight to PAN UK's call for a permanent ban on the use of all neonicotinoids in the UK.

A new report examining the effects neonicotinoid pesticides on wild bee populations in England was published on 16th August in the journal Nature. The study, led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, clearly shows that wild bee populations have suffered large scale and long term declines since the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides. The report itself is based on a correlational study looking to see if there are significant relationships between data on wild bee populations and incidence and data on oilseed rape acreages and neonicotinoid treatment over an 18 year period before and after the introduction of neonicotinoids to the UK (1994-2011). While this does not provide absolute proof, if that were even possible, it does provide an extremely convincing association that adds significantly to the already large body of scientific evidence showing that neonicotinoids cause harm to wild bees and other pollinator species.

Glyphosate Bans Around the World PDF Print E-mail

picture of EU flagPAN UK's Policy Officer, Nick Mole, has provided an up to date list of the status of all the places around the world that are in the process of banning Glyphosate.  It is possible to go pesticide free in our towns and cities. Check out the list to see who is leading the way. This list is not comprehensive however so if you have any additional information please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Brexit: Government urged to support farming for public good PDF Print E-mail

picture of EU flagPAN UK, and over 80 other environmental, health and consumer organisations, has written to  David Davies and Theresa May to stress the important implications of Brexit on food and farming.  With many of the UK’s food and farming policies and subsidies being defined at EU level, the UK government now has an opportunity to reshape these to ensure that taxpayers money is spent for public good.

The organisations, representing the health and long-term interests of millions of British citizens, called on government to adopt common-sense food, farming and fishing policies that are good for jobs, health and the environment, when they plan for the UK’s exit from the European Union. The letter, argues that good food, farming and fishing policies must be central to any post EU Referendum strategy for the UK.

Pets and Pesticides PDF Print E-mail

Dave Goulson, a trustee of PAN-UK and well known bumblebee biologist, tells us about the potential issue of the pesticides we put on our pets getting into the environemnt and poisoning bees, earthworms and other essential organisms in our ecological communities.

Every summer we have a family holiday in France, and every year we have to solve the problem of finding someone to look after our loveable mongrel dog, Poppy. Last year we opted for an eccentric lady who takes dogs into her own home when their owners are away; her place is full of animals, and rather whiffy, but we figured that Poppy would much prefer it to kennels, and we were correct. The only problem was that she came back with fleas, which prompted my wife to pop her in to the vets. They sold her some Advocate flea treatment, recommending a monthly prophylactic dose year in, year out. As someone with a professional interest in pesticides I looked at the small print on the packet to see what was in it, and was horrified to see that it is was a neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid.

2nd application for use of neonicotinoids declined PDF Print E-mail

Picture of a beePAN-UK welcomes the recent decision by DEFRA to uphold the EU ban of neonicotinoids, for a secind time.

DEFRA have rejected a second request from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), for permission to apply neonicotinoids in order to control cabbage stem flea beetle in oilseed rape this summer.  

The facts are, yeilds are up and there is no need to use these pollinator poisons any longer.
Organic Cotton - for Children, Farmers and The Planet PDF Print E-mail

One of PAN-UK's donors, FRUGI, explains how and why they source thier organic cotton and the impact it has on the farmers they know.

Since Frugi began in 2004 we have believed passionately about caring for people and the environment. We want to be completely ethical, honest and transparent in everything we do and we firmly believe that producing beautiful, great quality organic clothing shouldn’t mean compromising our planet.
That’s why our clothes had to be organic; because it’s better for everyone; from the farmers who grow our cotton to the children who wear our clothes.

EU finally come to a descision on Glyphosate PDF Print E-mail

picture of EU flagThe European Commission has finally decided to extend the approval for glyphosate for 18 months to allow the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to assess the science and provide advice. While it’s disappointing not to achieve a full ban at this point in time, it is still a partial win none the less.

PAN UK is disappointed that the European Commission has decided to act unilaterally in the face of strong opposition from some member states and go against the advice of the European Parliament and extend the approval of glyphosate – even if it is only for 18 months. T
his 18-month period comes without any binding restrictions on use that would help reduce public exposure to glyphosate. Instead the Commission has presented some incredibly weak (and ultimately meaningless) recommendations to Member States on actions they ‘could’ take if they want. Lets hope some of them do!

Textile Exchange Talk 'Sector Transformation – Why We Need A Race-To-The-Top' PDF Print E-mail

Textile Exchange (TE) welcomes the work of PAN UK and partners Solidaridad and WWF in creating the recent “Sustainable Cotton Ranking” report. By raising the visibility – and leadership – of major cotton users converting to “more sustainable” cotton, we have the opportunity to create a race-to-the-top.  We think it's important to challenge and inspire the industry to keep advancing. A sustainability journey should incentivize movement along a continuum and recognize progress. We invite others to join us in understanding what that looks like for cotton.

Open Letter on Phase Out of Glyphosate PDF Print E-mail

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PAN Europe along with thirty one other signatories of European environmental, health, trade union, consumer protection and medical organisations sent an open letter to EU leaders pointing out the legal considerations of a prolonged reauthorisation of Glyphosate.  Read the full letter here. 

Pesticide Free Pants – lessons from a sustainable cotton brand down under PDF Print E-mail

We all know the horror stories of the cotton industry -- poverty prices and wages, exploitation, pollution levels that outrank most other industries, waste, to name but a few.

The recent release of the PAN report Sustainable Cotton Ranking Assessing company performance is an illuminating insight into how major brands are addressing these problems and worryingly, not many are doing enough.

‘Emergency’ Derogation on Neonicotinoids Declined PDF Print E-mail

Picture of a beePAN-UK welcomes the recent decision by DEFRA to uphold the EU ban of neonicotinoids, due to their link to pollinator decline.

DEFRA rejected a request from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), for permission to use ‘emergency’ applications of neonicotinoids in order to control cabbage stem flea beetle in oilseed rape this spring.  Their request would have undermined a Europe-wide ban on the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides that was introduced to assess the effect, if any, on yields and pollinator populations . 

In fact, the data so far shows minimal impact on yields and there have been no major flea beetle outbreaks since the ban came into force.

The decision to continue to protect our pollinators from these debilitating chemicals is good news for the future of British agriculture  Maintaining the ban will allow decisions about the health of our countryside to be based on observation and science rather than propaganda from profit driven industry.

Glyphosate Decision Postponed, Again. PDF Print E-mail

picture of EU flagThe controversy over the reauthorisation of glyphosate in the European Union continues as news that the predicted decision on approval today again has been postponed.

It is clear that there is serious disagreement among Member States about how, or if, this probable carcinogen should be approved for use across the EU. France and Italy are both opposed to reauthorisation, seven other countries were prepared to abstain from a vote and the remaining 19 countries, shamefully including the UK, were in favour of its continued use.

Whilst no new deadline for a decision has yet been set, if there is no decision by 30th June it is possible that the use of glyphosate in all areas – including agriculture – will be banned as this is when its current approval period comes to an end.

It is hoped that this further postponement will allow time to persuade more Member States that the citizens of the EU do not want this toxic poison to be used to grow our food, contaminate our parks and playgrounds or be sprayed in our home gardens.

African Countries Urge EU Leaders Not To Reauthorise Glyphosate. PDF Print E-mail

There is mounting support from non-European countries to stop the reauthorisation of Glyphosate in the EU this week. Six African countries including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia, with the support of the IUF, have sent communications to EU heads of states and the relevant EU authorities (See Attachments).  The unions have pointed to the risks from agrochemicals that their members confront on a daily basis, often without sufficient protective clothing and with no training. Even though the unions have struggled for many years with employers and governments to improve this situation, workers continue to suffer the effects of indiscriminate pesticide application. The situation is rendered even more acute by the fact that many agricultural workers in Africa live where they work, surrounded by general pesticide contamination and an absence of potable water. Moves towards reduced pesticide applications through integrated pest management and the adoption of agro-ecological farming techniques have so far only brought meagre results and sugar workers are exposed to particularly heavy, indiscriminate glyphosate application since the herbicide is used to accelerate ripening of the cane.

The unions believe that re-authorization would set back their own longstanding efforts to ban or restrict the application of glyphosate and other pesticides, and have urged the Commission to implement a ban on glyphosate use to ‘lead the way’.  Failing that, to respect at a minimum the April 13 resolution of the European Parliament, which called for limited reauthorization for 7 years, with important restrictions. 

PAN and IUF Call on European Leaders to Ban Glyphosate. PDF Print E-mail

picture of EU flagFive members of the PAN family, along with IUF (The International Union of Farm Workers), have just written to EU leaders asking them to ban the use of glyphosate in Europe and reminding them that two thirds of EU citizens feel the same.  Mounting scientific evidence is pointing to the toxicity of glyphosate to the environment and to humans, including links to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among others. Later this month the EU will vote on the future of glyphosate use in Europe for the next 15 years, so it is an imperative time.You can read the full Letter below and follow the progression of the descison here.  

Has Bristol non-herbicide weed control trial been designed to fail? PDF Print E-mail
Recent reports in the press referring to the current herbicide-free weed control trial in the Cotham area of Bristol have claimed that the “whole city stinks of vinegar” and that residents are unhappy about this. These reports have completely ignored the significance of this trial and instead tried to undermine the very good intentions behind it, instead resorting to sensationalist reporting of what is a very important issue not only for Bristol but for the UK as a whole.

However, in one respect, the articles are correct: the trial is a farce, and will fail to provide any insight into how to manage weeds without pesticides.
Green groups press charges against Monsanto and licensing authorities PDF Print E-mail

picture of EU flagIn yet another blow to the credibility of the reauthorisation process for glyphosate in the European Union, it has been revealed today that important epidemiological information about the effects of glyphosate have been ignored by industry and regulators.

PAN UK, in partnership with seven other European environmental and health NGOs, has launched a legal challenge against the process for relicensing glyphosate, and is calling for a complete ban on the herbicide. There is very clear evidence that it causes cancer and it is also very clear that the people of the European Union do not want glyphosate to be used to grow their food or on the streets and parks where they live, work and play.

Below you will find a press release, issued today by Global 2000 and the Munich Environmental Institute (two of the NGOs working with PAN UK on the legal challenge to glyphosate), showing that some key studies on the toxicity of glyphosate. have been badly misinterpreted

Glyphosate – A step closer to a ban in the European Union? PDF Print E-mail

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On Wednesday 13th April, the European Parliament voted in favour of a motion setting out conditions for the re-authorisation of the herbicide glyphosate. The motion allows for the re-licensing of glyphosate in the EU for a period of seven years (instead of the proposed 15), but would dramatically restrict the range of uses. Whilst it would not be a complete ban, the proposal would nevertheless result in an end to the use of glyphosate in many areas (like the amenity sector) and would seriously limits its use in others - including agriculture (you can read the key details of the motion below).

The European Commission will make a final decision in late-May.  There is still time to make your voice heard and let it know that you do not want glyphosate contaminating your food, streets, parks, schools and homes, by signing on to the PAN/IUF campaign here

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