Some people do advocate for an immediate ban on all pesticides. However, from our years of working with farmers and councils, we have found that a phasing-out process is more conducive to long-term success in the adoption of alternatives.
Farmers in particular need help to make a transition to a pesticide-free approach. No transition happens overnight. Currently, in the UK, the majority of farmers don’t have the tools they need to stop using synthetic pesticides. Subsidies and support are overwhelmingly given to large-scale industrial farms. That’s why we are calling for more support for farmers looking to do things differently, more research into alternatives, and more incentives for pesticide-free farming. Read more about our asks here.
Councils also need the time to assess their local needs and to create an adapted weed-management plan. We usually don’t advocate for a ‘like-for-like’ approach, where a synthetic pesticide is replaced by a natural substance for instance. We recommend, rather, that councils adopt a suit of alternatives. Over the course of a two-year phase-out period they can trial different targeted measures adapted to particular areas: some are simply left with weeds to grow freely, some have hand-weeding, some a mechanical weeder or a Foamstreem machine, there are many possibilities which take time to test! For information on alternatives see our guide for local authorities.
We do think that all non-agricultural pesticides should be banned as they are in France, but like any law, there should be a period between the passing of the law and its enforcement to give councils and others a chance to find alternatives and dispose of any remaining stocks safely.
Where individual use is concerned, however, we do advocate for an immediate end in the sale of pesticides in supermarkets and garden centres. You can read more about our work with supermarkets here.
To find out more about glyphosate and its effects see our Glyphosate Myth Buster.
In our international work, we are helping farmers on the ground to transition away from pesticide farming by trialling different adapted IPM measures, and we also work with intergovernmental organisations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation to create systems where Highly Hazardous Pesticides can be phased-out. Read more about our international cotton work here, and the work we are doing with supermarkets to reduce pesticide-use in supply chains here.