While not all supermarkets have gardening sections, those that do all sell pesticide products. Many people are understandably shocked to see these poisons nestled among the food aisles. There is absolutely no justification for pesticides that pose a risk to human health and environment to be used by the general public without any training or guidance on how to minimise the risks.
In fact, in 2019, France banned all non-agricultural pesticides meaning they are now only available to licensed farmers to use on agricultural crops. The UK government should follow suit but, in the meantime, supermarkets have a clear role to play in reducing the availability of these products by stopping selling them. Instead, they could be selling ranges of non-chemical products aimed at controlling weeds and insects.
While supermarkets phase out the sale of chemical pesticide products, in the meantime they should be providing guidance to shoppers on how to minimise the risks to the natural environment and their own health associated to pesticide use. Neither should they be offering deals or discounts which encourage shoppers to buy more pesticides then they need. This can lead to people eventually getting rid of unused pesticides by pouring them down the sink or putting them in the bin which can contaminate water and soil. It also contravenes the UN International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management which says that retailers should not offer “…incentives or gifts to encourage the purchase of pesticides.”
Apart from M&S and Iceland which do not stock gardening ranges, all UK supermarkets sell pesticide products and many still offer deals and discounts on them. Six out of the eight supermarkets which sell pesticide products told PAN UK that they also stock non-chemical alternatives (all but Tesco and Lidl).
WHAT CAN I DO?
Tell your supermarket that you want them to stop selling chemical pesticides. Stop using pesticides in your own garden. (To help you, here is our Guide to Gardening Without Pesticides). If you do have any pesticides left over then make sure to dispose of them responsibly by taking them to your local council disposal facility.