|UK Election 2015 – where do the parties stand on pesticide issues?|
All the major parties have published their manifestos for the forthcoming general election on 7 May, and as ever, PAN UK were eager to see what promises they make, if elected, to tackle the issue of pesticides, reduce our dependence on them and put a halt to the health and environmental effects that pesticide use is causing in urban and rural localities throughout the UK.
Sadly, most of the major parties make few (or no) promises on pesticides. However, to help you consider how best to use your vote in respect of pesticide issues, we do set out below what is promised by the each of the five major parties at this election. Additionally, given the paucity of manifesto pledges on pesticides, we’ve added a little on what we know of some parties track records on pesticides.
Pesticides are mentioned in their manifesto, where they state “We will support a science led approach to GM crops and pesticides”.
On the face of it, this might seem commendable, given that PAN UK ourselves take a “science led” approach to pesticides.
However, what this is likely to mean in practice is "more of the same". This is best evidenced by the Conservatives track record on pesticides, where they have consistently sided with the agrochemical industry in the face of overwhelming independent scientific evidence of the harm caused by pesticides.
A good example of this is their approach to neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been shown, through a huge body of independent scientific evidence, to be harmful to bees, the Conservatives voted against the EU ban on some uses of some neonicotinoids
The one manifesto that actually talks about pesticides in any detail is the Green Party's. It appears that they have actually thought about the issue in some detail and elaborated a set of what PAN UK believes are very sensible policy approaches.
They promise to :
- Reduce dramatically the use of pesticides and prioritise non-chemical farming methods
- Secure protection of rural residents and communities from exposure to pesticides sprayed on nearby crop fields and prohibit the use of pesticides in the locality of homes, schools and children’s playgrounds
- Help bees by reducing pesticide use (banning neonicotinoids)
The Labour Party manifesto makes no mention of pesticides.
It is, however, worth noting that Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary , Andy Burnham, last year called for a public inquiry into the issue of organphosphate (OP) sheep dip poisoning suffered by sheep farmers and their families. Across the UK. many hundreds of farmers and their families have gone through years of suffering as a result of their exposure to OPs, and, despite solid evidence showing a causal link between their exposure and the health effects, there has been no official recognition or compensation paid to the victims.
The Lib Dems make no specific mention of pesticides in their manifesto but do briefly mention bees where they state they will bring forward a package of measures to protect bees and other pollinators, including legal protection for bumblebee nests.” A welcome statement, but nothing to suggest whether they will address the effects of pesticides on bees.
No mention of pesticides in their manifesto.
28 April 2015