Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum from The Pesticides Trust

  I would like to take this opportunity to add a comment to my submission to the Environmental Audit Committee. It concerns our response to the Chancellor's Pre-Budget statement (an issue I am surprised the Chairman of the Committee did not raise). The Chancellor said the "government intends to explore with the agrochemical industry whether its objectives can be better achieved through a partnership approach between government and industry."

  We are concerned by this government position because a similar arrangement with the herbicide isoproturon (IPU) has so far failed to work.

  Isoproturon, the most widely used cereal herbicide in the UK, is regularly found to have exceeded the 0.1 µg/litre EU standard for drinking water—it is also found in the aquatic environment.

  In 1995 an IPU Task Force (comprising the principle manufacturers AgrEvo, Ciba [now Norvartis, soon to be AstraZeneca/Novartis] and Rhone Poulenc) began a Stewardship Programme which it hoped would protect water quality. The Task Force produced practical guidance to farmers and spray operators.

  Since this time there has been concern that this programme is not working. A recent (15 January 1999) press release from the Environment Agency said:

    "The chemical currently giving most cause for concern is Isoproturon which is a general purpose herbicide used extensively in agriculture for controlling grasses and broad-leaved weeds in winter and spring cereals".

  Investigations carried out by the Environment Agency indicate that most of the contamination is draining from arable land in the north and east of Shropshire and appears to be entering the rivers by movement through the soil after application.

  The Environment Agency's Upper Severn Area Environment Planning Manager Bob Harvey, said: "We share the concerns of the water company (South Staffordshire Water) and are very anxious to work with the agricultural community to improve river quality."

  In light of this evidence that partnerships between government and the agrochemical industry are not working, we feel that more stringent measures such as pesticides tax should be adopted.

December 1999


 
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