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Sustainable Food Guide
Environmental Practice at Work © 2005 Link:EP@W Ltd Web Site


 Pesticide Issues...

There are millions of tons of pesticides and fertilisers used to grow crops across the world. 25-30,000 tonnes are used annually in UK. Pesticides aim to kill pests, particularly insects (insecticides) and weeds (herbicides). However, most of these chemicals end up in air, water, land - and food. Some of these pesticides build up in concentration down the food chain, ending up harming other organisms many miles away.

Concerns were raised in the 1960s when it was found that organochlorine pesticides, like DDT, were very persistant. Instead of degrading they accumulated in the food chains of animals, building up in birds of prey. They weakened the shells of their eggs resulting in a serious decline in their numbers. Similar fears are being raised now in relation to the second generation of rat poisons (secondary anti-coagulants or 'super warfarins'). While there is no evidence of damage, there is evidence that they are accumulating in the food chain as they are more persistant than their predecessors. (more from English Nature)

In the UK the water industry spends £1.6 billion million cleaning pesticides from water, according to CIWEM.

There main concerns:

graphic: spraying
Pests develop immunity to the chemical pesticides and so greater quantities of chemical poisons are needed, at the same time many of the pesticides persist in the environment. Imported foods may have been produced using chemicals now banned in the EU owing to their toxicity.


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