Insight into UK pesticide use plan
The consultation period on the United Kingdom’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra’s) draft National Action Plan (NAP) for the sustainable use of pesticides recently ended. The NAP is resulting in strong comments pro and con about a department plan that establishes an environmental perspective in overseeing pesticide use.
Colin Ruscoe, Ph.D., British Crop Production Council (BCPC) chairman made an extensive comment that the BCPC issued to those in agriculture within the UK and the world. Some of the comments relate to programs that those outside the UK will not fully understand, but the overall comment content is interesting. Within the brackets below are comments that I’ve provided from my perspective.
“BCPC welcomes Defra’s balanced and pragmatic approach. This includes the intention to continue the present direction and initiatives for supporting good practice, e.g. the Catchment Sensitive Farming program. Continuing the existing successful policies also has the benefit of not increasing the regulatory burden on business. [Whenever someone involved in agriculture can say a government policy would not increase regulatory burden, then that has to be music to those in agriculture’s ears.]
“BCPC is pleased to see that there is no intention to aim for pesticide use reduction per se—since this does not correlate with reduction of risk—but to continue the monitoring sales and usage data, and of pesticide residues. But although monitoring residues in relation to internationally agreed MRLs (maximum residue levels) is useful, great care must be taken in presenting such results, making clear the purpose and significance of the MRLs. Too often, the presence of any detectable residue above the MRLs is misrepresented as ‘a danger to health’ by the media. [Just as in the U.S., there always is concern about media that does not understand agriculture blowing things out of perspective.]
“However, some aspects of the National Action Plan are of concern to BCPC. The UK’s approach to operator training, combining mandatory training and continuing professional development (CPD), has been highly successful in raising standards and reducing risks. CPD is not required by the draft National Action Plan, but it is desirable to maintain standards in our rapidly changing technological and regulatory environment. [Per this comment, it is obvious that professional training is an emphasis in the UK just as in the U.S.]