|Defra Minister George Eustice Outlines His Plan For a Toxic Future|
On the day that the NFU announced it was appointing the outgoing chair of the Crop Protection Association to head up its Brexit and international relations department, Defra Minister, George Eustice, has delivered a speech during a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference outlining his vision for a more toxic UK agriculture post EU.
In a tweet posted by the CLA, a landowner’s organisation, Eustice is reported as saying that following the UK’s departure from the EU he wants to see a pesticide authorisation system based on risk rather than hazard. This would mean that pesticides classed as carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disrupting or that cause developmental problems could be approved for use.
This is simply the ramping up of the continuing pro-pesticides UK government position which has consistently opposed all measures to make the regulation of pesticides stricter and more precautionary. And Eustice is not the first to be seen to be eagerly awaiting the chance to deregulate and allow his friends in the pesticide industry to have their way.
At the British Crop Production Council (BCPC) annual meeting currently being held in Brighton, the keynote speaker, Lord Curry, has made the claim that regulation is a hindrance and that less regulation is better – regulation as a last resort. This is a very worrying position to take. Pesticides are poisons; they are regulated because of the huge potential for harm that they can cause not only to people but to the environment too. Whilst the current EU system is far from perfect it offers far more protection than this unregulated vision that the NFU, Crop Protection Association, Defra Ministers and associated believers envisages.
UK agriculture post EU must not become an unregulated paradise for the agrochemical industry to do with what they will. There is a very real need to protect the people and environment of the UK from the harm that pesticides can and do cause. This is actually a huge opportunity to develop a forward thinking, modern approach and start phasing out and decreasing the use of pesticides. It is time to move away from outdated, post-war chemical approaches and start working with nature instead of trying to control it with an ever more toxic chemical arsenal. Are our politicians up to the job? It doesn’t look as though they are at the moment.
Read PAN UK’s post EU vision for UK agriculture here.