October 2020 | ISSUE 123
An international perspective on the health & environmental effects of pesticides
A NEW GENERATION OF FARMERS PUTTING NATURE FIRST
Food sprays: experiences from Uganda
Acute pesticide poisoning in smallholder farmers
Bees, beets and obesity
FARMER INSIGHTS Meeting George Young at Curtis Farm, Essex Getting to know George on his arable farm in Fobbing, Essex is an absolute joy. His enthusiasm and love for farming is infectious and he is full of energy and bursting with ideas. He grows heritage wheat, winter beans, spring beans, barley, peas, hemp, linseed and buckwheat with plans to convert to agroecological organic farming methods. He already doesnâ€™t use insecticides and has massively decreased his reliance on nitrogen and fungicides. Read all about George's innovative ideas for weaving nature back into his farm: https://www.pan-uk. org/farmer-insights
Farming for the future We believe that the agricultural use of pesticides is excessive and damaging to farmers, consumers and the environment. Ideally, weâ€™d like to see a drastic reduction in pesticide use, but realise that this requires a fundamental change in the way we farm and a phased-out approach. We want to see funding going into alternative technologies, research and training to support farmers to switch away from synthetic pesticides and reward them for doing so. Farmers need independent advice, support and incentives to move away from their reliance on chemicals. We have spoken to many farmers who are
keen to use pesticides less, but feel that change seems insurmountable. Unfortunately, we have also spoken to many farmers who still believe that pesticides are perfectly safe, needed to feed a growing population. We hear time and time again that the people best placed to influence farmer behaviour are other farmers. We therefore want to showcase farmers who have made the change to farming without pesticides or who are reducing their pesticide use. Farmers who are embracing Integrated Pest Management; those experimenting with agroecological approaches on their farm; who have innovative ideas and who are trying something new in their cropping system design. We want to demonstrate that there are other successful ways to farm and that agroecological production can be sustainable, reduce food waste, enhance human health and biodiversity while still being profitable. The farmers we interview in this series highlight the value, as PAN UK does, of sharing experiences as an essential element of motivating and mentoring more farmers to embark on the journey of phasing out pesticides and phasing in safer and more sustainable alternatives. To share your story please get in touch.
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Buckwheat growing at Curtis Farm Image cover: George Young discussing his agroforestry plans for the future Credits: Benjamin Youd @benjaminyoud
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Hospital in West Africa. Credit Stock Snap
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ACUTE PESTICIDE POISONING IN SMALLHOLDER FARMERS A new report presents findings from a series of health monitoring projects conducted by PAN UK and partner organisations in 11 low and middle income countries over the past decade. Thousands of smallholder farmers and farmworkers were surveyed about their use of â€“ and exposure to â€“ pesticides, to build a clearer picture of the reality of pesticide use in rural communities. The studies reveal that acute pesticide poisoning is widespread and affects a high proportion of farmers, farmworkers and their families. Most studies found that over 40% of those surveyed had experienced at least one episode of acute pesticide poisoning in the previous 12 months. Some studies found far higher poisoning rates â€“ in one case as high as 82%. What is more, a significant minority of respondents experience multiple poisoning events in a year. The signs and symptoms of acute pesticide poisoning recorded ranged from serious symptoms such as convulsions and loss of consciousness to relatively short-lived effects such as headaches and dizziness. There are implications for the long-term health of those exposed, as many of the substances used by the farmers have been associated with serious chronic illnesses including cancers and neurological diseases.
Some of the studies found children working directly with pesticides and instances of women being exposed during pregnancy. These groups are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticide poisoning. A striking finding was that hardly any of the poisoning victims questioned had received professional medical treatment. The result is that hardly any poisoning incidents reach national medical statistics. Occupational pesticide poisoning is a hidden crisis and the scale of the problem is unknown to policymakers. The findings challenge many of the assumptions that underpin pesticide regulation. They show clearly that protective measures that are supposed to manage risk and reduce exposure are rarely in place. Personal protective equipment is hardly ever used; pesticides are repackaged into inappropriate containers and sold without warning labels, and even where labels are in place, many users cannot understand them. The most effective way to protect human health and the environment is to remove highly hazardous pesticides from use and only allow safer, non-chemical approaches or those pesticides which do not require extra mitigation measures. Read the full report at: www.pan-uk.org/acute-pesticidepoisoning-among-smallholder-farmers
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BEES, BEETS & OBESITY by Nick Mole, Policy Officer, PAN UK “Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers”1 “250 million children worldwide forecast to be obese by 2030”.2 These are headlines from the Guardian newspaper highlighting two key issues we are facing globally. On the face of it the problems of obesity and insect declines are not linked, but stay with me…
Insect ‘Armageddon’ Many of you will have watched the first episode of Extinction on the BBC, presented by UK national treasure David Attenborough, which highlights the fact that there are 1 million species at risk of extinction. Insects, including bees and other key pollinators, have been declining due to multiple factors – with pesticides high on the list of causes. In particular, there has been a focus on a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids which were all but banned for use in the EU in 2018 because of their impact on insects.
Obesity epidemic Meanwhile, levels of obesity have been rising globally for many years now and have, according to many health professionals, reached epidemic levels. Britain has been described as the “sixth fattest country” in the world, with adult
and childhood obesity levels rising year-on-year. Obesity can also bring on other serious health problems and is also linked to an increased risk of dying from Covid-19 complications. The cause of this obesity epidemic is, like the insect Armageddon, varied but it is clear that consumption of processed foods and high sugar intake are two of the biggest factors.
Government action UK regulators have made some attempts to tackle these two issues, albeit entirely separately. The ban on the use of neonicotinoids, which the UK Government adopted as an EU Member State, aimed to slow insect declines. The adoption of a sugar tax, in 2014, was an attempt to drive a reduction in sugar levels in processed foods and discourage sugar consumption by individuals. The sugar tax, or ‘Soft Drinks Industry Levy’ to give it is proper name, puts a charge on soft drinks that contain sugar. The higher the level of sugar the higher the tax. The funds raised from the tax are ploughed back into the health service forming a virtuous circle. And it has had a positive impact. So, steps are being taken at the highest level to address both problems. But….
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“France to lift neonics ban to save beet industry”3 This headline from Farmers Weekly is what ties it all together. Sugar beet farmers across the EU have long been opposed to any ban or restriction on the use of neonicotinoids. They claim that it will be impossible to maintain current yields of sugar beet without them. In other words, without these beetoxic insecticides they won’t be able to produce enough sugar beet to make the refined sugar that goes into the soft drinks and processed foods which are affecting our health!
How does this affect us in the UK? Similarly, to what has been happening in France, some UK sugar beet farmers (supported by British Sugar, which supplies 60% of the UK’s sugar market) have also been calling for a relaxation of the ban on neonicotinoids. To their credit, DEFRA has thus far refused to grant their requests but how long will they hold out against the lobbying of a very powerful industry? Faced with potential drops in sugar beet yields and the threat of cheaper imports from non-EU countries where neonicotinoids are still authorised, there is a real danger that the UK Government will bow to the demands of the sugar industry. However, this will be a hugely missed opportunity to tackle not only insect declines, but also obesity. It’s vital that the UK Government grasps the opportunity to see the links between these two issues and makes some bold decisions. They must stand firm on the neonicotinoids ban and not allow derogations for use on sugar beet or other crops.
They must also protect both UK farmers and consumers by refusing to agree to imports of cheap sugar produced with pesticides that are banned for use in the UK during trade negotiations. PAN UK’s decades of experience has shown that there is a plethora of nonchemical methods for maintaining yields. Perhaps, if the sugar industry spent less time fighting bans on harmful pesticides and more time investing in research into non-chemical pest control methods and supporting farmers to adopt them, then it would not be facing its current troubles. However, in a much broader sense, the UK Government should be asking itself if reduced sugar beet yields and more expensive sugar would really be such a bad thing? Perhaps they should be putting in place the measures to help farmers to transition to other crops which cause less damage. Ultimately, our overweight children and stressed pollinators will thank us for it in the future.
References: https://www.theguardian.com/ environment/2017/oct/18/warning-ofecological-armageddon-after-dramaticplunge-in-insect-numbers 2 https://www.theguardian.com/ society/2019/oct/02/250-millionchildren-worldwide-forecast-to-beobese-by-2030 3 https://www.fwi.co.uk/arable/franceto-lift-neonics-ban-to-save-beetindustry 1
Image right: sugar beet. Credit Ulrike Leone on Pixabay
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UPDATE: FRANCE AND NEONICOTINOIDS There are mixed messages coming from France about the continued use of neonicotinoid insecticides. On the one hand the European Court of Justice ruled that France was entirely within its rights to ban the use of all five neonicotinoids, going further than the EU ban on just three. This in itself is fantastic news and sets an important precedent showing that Member States can take a more precautionary approach to pesticides unilaterally should they so wish. However, in a move that could undermine this ban, French MPs voted to allow the use of neonicotinoid treated seeds on sugar beet. The decision, which was supported by a majority of French MPs, came about as a result of hard lobbying by the French sugar beet industry who have claimed that they cannot grow their crop without neonicotinoids. In fairness, the decision to allow use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet does come with a range of measures aimed at ensuring a minimum of harm is done. No spraying is to be allowed and only the use of treated sugar beet seeds is permitted. A special council to oversee the use of neonicotinoids has to be established and a ban on planting any flowering crop attractive to bees in the same area are also parts of the decision. While this is clearly not a wholesale move to reintroduce neonicotinoids it does set an unwanted precedent and will help to bolster similar calls for the use of neonicotinoids by the UK sugar beet industry.
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CAN FOOD SPRAYS HELP SMALLHOLDER FARMERS CONTROL PESTS? Experience from Uganda by Dr Julie Abisgold, Senior Agricultural Specialist, AgDevCo The Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) in northern Uganda works with tens of thousands of smallholder farmers who produce organic cotton. Organic production is often challenged by the large numbers of pests which attack the crop, notably the African bollworm, aphids and various species of sucking bugs. However, help is at hand in the form of the naturally occurring organisms or ‘natural enemies’ that prey on these cotton pests – such as ladybirds, lacewings and parasitic wasps. These natural enemies can be very effective in keeping the numbers of pests down and, by encouraging the natural enemies into the crop and helping them to survive there, farmers can prevent pest numbers from reaching economically damaging levels. So how can farmers encourage these natural enemies into their crops? One approach is to use ‘food sprays’, based on a mixture of sugar and yeast or maize. These sprays, which mimic the scent of the prey, can be used to attract the natural enemies into the crop early in the season so that they are ready for action when the pest numbers start to increase. The use of food sprays was first developed by Dr Robert Mensah of the Australian Cotton Research Institute,
who worked with Pesticide Action Network UK to adapt them for use by smallholder farmers. Trials in Benin and Ethiopia have found that the sprays can be very effective in controlling pests and increasing yields, and therefore in increasing farmers’ income.
Field testing with smallholder cotton farmers in Uganda AgDevCo, a specialist impact investor and project developer working in the African agriculture sector, has been supporting GADC in testing food sprays with smallholder farmers during the 2019 cotton season to see whether these positive results would also apply in Uganda. Forty of the company’s lead farmers were provided with ready-made food sprays, made from four different combinations of yeast, maize, sugar and molasses. Molasses was included as a potentially cheaper and more readily available material for farmers in this part of Uganda than the sugar added in the maize or yeast recipes in PAN’s Food Spray Training Manual. Farmers were given dedicated knapsack sprayers and mesh for filtering out the solids and were trained in cleaning the nozzles out after spraying to avoid blockages.
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Inspecting cotton. Credit: Julius Kizitu
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The farmers applied the first spray when the cotton plants were very young in order to attract the beneficial invertebrates into the crop early in the season. They then checked their cotton once a week and used a specially designed identification manual to count the number of pests and natural enemies they saw, re-applying the food spray if the pests outnumbered the natural enemies by more than two to one. To support this field monitoring and decision making, GADC gave two days of training in the techniques to field officers and assistant area coordinators (employed by GADC). The field officers then applied the sprays to their own farms and this, plus the scouting, was overseen by the assistant area coordinators. A control treatment was left unsprayed, to represent organic cotton
farmers’ practice in this area. The farmers had some previous familiarity with the concept of natural enemies but didn’t know what they looked like. They also had some idea of the most important pests and what they looked like but the accuracy of this was variable prior to the training. The field training and practice helped farmers and extension staff improve their insect identification skills and confidence. Farmers were very surprised to learn that so many insects are “on their side” and are now naming some of their new ‘friends’. GADC staff found it helpful to use A4 sized colour charts with photos of common cotton pests and natural enemies and to encourage farmers to use the ‘maize kernels and stones’ method for counting predators and pests respectively in their twice weekly field monitoring.
FOOD SPRAY RECIPE USED IN STUDY Yeast sprays: 1kg of Brewers’ yeast added to 5 litres of water plus 1kg of sugar*, plus 50g of soap. Maize sprays: 10-15 litres of boiling water added to 4kg of maize and left to soak for 24 hrs. Mixture then sieved and the soaked maize crushed and finely ground. Add 8-10 litres of cold water and leave for 48 hrs. Sieve out the crushed kernels, spread them out in the sun to dry. Take 2kg of the dried powder and add to 5 litres of water plus either 1kg of sugar or 1.4 kg of molasses*. Add 50g of soap. *sugar or molasses not added to the first food spray Find further information on food sprays here: https://www.pan-uk.org/food-spray
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It quickly became clear that the food sprays were having a major impact. The plots that had been sprayed were found to have larger numbers of predators and lower numbers of pests than control plots where the sprays were not used, demonstrating that the food sprays can tip the balance in favour of the natural enemies. Fig. 1 shows the average number of pests per sample for the entire season, comparing the different
food spray recipes. All recipes showed lower pest numbers than the non-foodsprayed control plot, particularly the maize + molasses recipe and the yeastonly recipe, although this data has not been analysed for statistical significance. Fig. 2 shows the different Predator:Pest ratios from these different treatments. The yeast-only recipe showed by far the most favourable ratio of natural enemies to pests.
Figure 1. Average number of pests per sample during the season (a total of eight plots per treatment were tested)
Figure 2. Predator : pest ratios during the season
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Identifying natural enemies. Credit: Peter Maganda
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At the end of the season, the yields from the sprayed plots were considerably higher than from the control plots – with the difference ranging from 20% to 65%, depending on the particular spray used Table 1). Table 1. Average yields for the 2019 season trial plots
As the sprays were made from cheap, locally-available materials, the increases in yields were more than enough to outweigh the cost of producing the sprays and hence to produce a net return for the farmer, although economic data was not collected in this first trial season. Almost all the farmers involved gave positive feedback on the sprays, commenting that they: • found the food spray very easy to use, safe and cheap • noticed the whole field full of “Farmers’ Friends” when they applied food spray • liked the fact that food spray can be made quickly and only if needed 92% of farmers participating want to use food sprays again.
Next steps Although these initial results look very promising, this isn’t the end of the story. Having demonstrated that smallholder farmers can use food sprays effectively, GADC and AgDevCo are currently carrying out more rigorous trials in the 2020 farming season, following standardised randomised plot
methodology to generate data which can be analysed statistically. It’s also important to find out if farmers will implement the food spray method in practice so they are also assessing whether farmers themselves can produce the sprays cost effectively and will compare the efficacy and cost to benefit ratios of the various formulations. As always when introducing innovations to smallholder farmers, we need to be very confident about the benefits and clear about the costs before we can recommend that adoption is scaled up. Participating organic farmers will be encouraged to source the materials to make the food spray themselves and prepare it at home. GADC will encourage farmers to share knapsack sprayers in small groups as individual access is a challenge for smallholders. If the initial positive results are borne out, there’s no reason to think that the use of food sprays should be restricted only to cotton. We already know that planting maize or sorghum near cotton can reinforce the efficacy of the sprays by providing habitats for natural predators – so we’d like to look at whether the food sprays can also help to protect those crops as well. Food sprays could well turn out to be a significant step forward in enabling smallholder farmers to improve their yields in a sustainable and cost-effective way, without the use of hazardous and expensive chemicals. AgDevCo’s Smallholder Development Unit is supported by the Mastercard Foundation and UK aid.
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A LOST DECADE FOR NATURE by Steph Morren, Senior Policy Officer, RSPB In 2010, the world signed up to a set of 20 global targets, known as the Aichi targets, to halt the disastrous loss of biodiversity by 2020. Well, we’ve reached 2020 and sadly are still a very long way from halting biodiversity loss. The final stocktake on these targets was published in September and, quite simply, we have failed to take enough action. In the UK, the Government themselves have claimed we have missed our contribution to two thirds of these targets, however the RSPB believes that the UK may have met as few as three of the 20 targets it agreed to a decade ago. Our analysis shows that in six areas the UK has gone backwards. The RSPB have called this failure a “Lost Decade for Nature”.
Species declines and extinctions According to State of Nature (2019), 41% of UK species have been in decline since 1970 with no sign of the rate of loss slowing. Farmland species are in particular trouble with bird populations more than halving since 1970. Changes in agricultural practices, including increased use of pesticides, have been the leading cause of this decline. The evidence for impacts of pesticides on all taxa – but pollinators and other insects in particular – is mounting. If we are to have any chance of recovering species populations in the countryside, we must start to farm with nature instead of against it, reduce our reliance on pesticides, and provide a safe home for wildlife.
The RSPB assessment focussed on three critical areas of concern in particular: species, protected areas and financing.
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Paying for it
The UK Government claims that they have exceeded the Aichi target of 17% of terrestrial habitats being protected. This is due to the misleading statistic that 28% of UK land is a “protected area”. However, this ignores the fact that only “effectively managed” protected areas count. Ongoing work estimates that only around 5% of the UK’s land meets these criteria. For example, across the UK, around half of all confirmed raptor persecution incidents have taken place in National Parks, AONBs and National Scenic Areas (NSAs), despite only covering a quarter of the land area. Raptor persecution continues to blight (mainly) the upland areas of northern England and Scotland, and is often done by poisoning with pesticides. Sometimes these are legal, over the counter pesticides used in an illegal way, and other times are highly toxic chemicals banned in the EU such as carbofuran. Chemicals that can cause harm in this way, should not be so easily obtainable.
Ultimately, our ability to reverse biodiversity loss will be forever constrained unless it is properly and fully financed. According to the Government’s own figures, there has been a substantial decline in public sector spending on biodiversity in the UK from £641 million between 2012/13 to £456 million in 2017/18. This corresponds to a tiny proportion, 0.02%, of UK GDP. The major source of biodiversity funding has always been through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, but in reality this has mostly not been directed to protecting biodiversity but has been focussed on food production alone. Leaving the EU gives us the ability to address this by paying farmers “public money for public goods”. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) requires farmers to use non-chemical methods of pest control first, and pesticides only as a last resort. More financial support for farmers to undertake IPM, and for research and development of non-chemical alternatives, is essential to shift the current reliance on pesticides towards a safer, more sustainable future for UK farming.
Cairngorms National Park by Ben Andrew (RSPB images)
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What do we need to do? 75% of the UK is farmed. In order to have any hope of addressing biodiversity loss and species declines, we need a fundamental reform of agriculture and food policy. At the heart of this is making sure that farmers are truly rewarded for looking after our countryside and wildlife as well as producing food. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. More nature-friendly farmers are sharing their innovative ideas for pesticide reduction or elimination, and their farms and the biodiversity that is found there are thriving.
World leaders are due to gather in China in 2021 to agree a new set of 10year global targets for nature. As part of this worldwide effort, the UK must set ambitious, legally-binding targets for species and habitat recovery, and set out real world actions to tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss – including a reduction in pesticide use. We cannot afford to fail again.
Read the full report at: https://community.rspb. org.uk/ourwork/b/ rspb-england/posts/alost-decade
Steph Morren has a background in biodiversity and conservation and has worked for the RSPB for over ten years in a variety of roles, most recently as senior policy officer with a particular focus on pesticides. This work has focused on advocating for policies to lead to a reduction in pesticide related harms in the UK. She has also worked in the RSPB’s species recovery team – prioritising where we should invest our conservation efforts and managing projects to recover populations of threatened or declining species.
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Yellowhammer by Jack Farrar (RSPB images)
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EFFECTS OF GLYPHOSATE ON AMPHIBIAN EMBRYOS by François Brischoux, Researcher, CNRS Despite intense societal and scientific debates regarding its toxicity, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide. Accordingly, its primary metabolite, AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid), is the main substance detected in surface waters worldwide, both because of the extensive use of glyphosate and because of other widespread sources of AMPA (i.e. detergents). AMPA concentrations in the field are very low (usually below 10µg per liter of water), far below the official toxicity threshold (Environmental Quality Standard [EQS] 452µg per liter of water) and thus not considered a risk to wildlife. Yet, studies investigating potential effects 0f AMPA at environmental concentrations on non-target organisms are lacking. We tested, under controlled conditions at the laboratory, the effects of low concentrations of AMPA (representing actual concentrations measured in the field from 0.07 to 3.6 µg per liter of water) on the development of embryos of Spined toad (Bufo spinosus), an amphibian species widespread in agricultural areas.
Our results show that even at very low concentrations, AMPA alters embryonic development in this species. Generally, eggs that develop in water containing AMPA have lower survival and longer development duration than eggs developing without AMPA. Upon hatching, the morphology of AMPA treated tadpoles is different to control individuals. More importantly, we found that those negative effects were more important for the lower concentrations tested. This non-linear response to increasing concentrations - called nonmonotonic concentration response – as well as low-concentrations effects seems to be strongly linked to endocrine disruption. Although the targets of this putative endocrine disruption remain to be identified, our study indicates that low concentrations of AMPA could have major consequences on biodiversity. In addition, it emphasizes the need to go beyond the use of high-dose studies to infer official EQS and to consider environmentally relevant concentrations in order to comprehensively assess impacts of anthropogenic contaminants on the environment.
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François Brischoux is a researcher at CNRS (France) based at the Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC CNRS-La Rochelle Université). His research aims at investigating the responses of vertebrates to environmental constraints, with a specific focus on the role of contaminants (trace elements, agrochemicals) as selective pressures in anthropized ecosystems (urban or agricultural environments). These themes are focused on ecophysiological responses of birds, reptiles (snakes, turtles, caimans) and amphibians. Find the full article at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/ S0013935120308392
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WELCOMING NEW COLLEAGUES TO PAN UK Meet Alex Stuart Alex joins PAN UK as International Project Manager for Agroecology. Originally from the UK, Alex has over ten years of experience conducting research and training in agroecology and sustainable crop management in Southeast Asia. This included working on methods to balance rodent conservation and rodent pest management in the Philippines, farmer participatory research to reduce the negative environmental impacts of rice production in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, and research in Myanmar to optimise rice-fish co-culture without pesticide use. Alex has a passion for wildlife and would like to see agricultural practices conducted in harmony with nature. In his new role, Alex will manage and support projects that develop agroecological techniques to reduce pesticide use and enhance biodiversity and other related ecosystem services. He will also measure the environmental impacts of farming practices e.g. on pollination deficits, biodiversity and climate resilience. Alex hopes that by assisting farmers and policy makers to understand the numerous ecosystem services that nature provides, agroecological principles will be better integrated into farming practices to reduce the reliance on harmful agrochemicals and enhance the role of nature towards supporting sustainable crop production.
Meet Emma Pavans de Ceccatty Emma joins PAN UK as Campaigns and Communications Assistant and will be leading the Pesticide-Free Towns campaign. She is excited to be involved in a project where she is able to see direct change and contribute positively in removing pesticides from the UK's urban landscape. She looks forward to helping communities find their voice in order to build successful local campaigns. This is also a critical time to join the fight, as councils and the government are declaring climate emergencies, and there is a real potential for positive change. She hopes to bring her creative communications background to contribute in helping people across the UK learn more about the value in their local biodiversity, from wonky veg to weird weeds.
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NEWS FROM THE NETWORK PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) have published the book Pandemic of Hunger: Asserting People's Rights Amid COVID-19, a compilation of research, monitoring and interviews which document the impact of the virus on food security and the response of rural communities to the crisis. â€œThe COVID-19 crisis is reaffirming the legitimacy and urgency of agroecology as a long existing and viable, but systematically undermined alternative to the prevalent input-intensive, chemicalbased agricultural systems. But beyond its biophysical and ecological aspects, PANAP looks at agroecology as being strongly grounded on the environmental; social and cultural; economic; and political dimensions of sustainability,â€?
An Unearthed and Public Eye investigation has revealed that the UK is by far Europe's biggest exporter of toxic banned pesticides to poorer countries. The investigation shows the hypocrisy of allowing agrochemical companies to flood low- and middle-income countries with substances deemed too dangerous for European agriculture. Syngenta's best-selling pesticide, paraquat, is lethal in small quantities and chronic exposure can cause Parkinson's disease. Banned for use in the EU since 2007, as well as in Switzerland since 1989, Syngenta continues to manufacture the herbicide at its plant in Huddersfield, UK, exporting it to countries in South America, Asia and Africa, where it causes thousands of poisonings every year. NOTE: Since publication, the Swiss government has decided to end the export of paraquat, atrazine, profenofos, diafenthiuron and methidathion.
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IN MEMORY OF WUDINESH KORICHO We are very sad to report that organic cotton farmer, Wudinesh Koricho, has passed away. One of the first farmers in Ethiopia ever to secure organic certification for cotton, she was a founding member of the Shelle Mella Organic Cotton Cooperative. For many growing seasons, Wudinesh took part in our project which works to empower farmers in Ethiopia to grow cotton without toxic pesticides and fertilisers. She embraced Integrated Pest Management techniques before
becoming fully organic. In her organic cotton cooperative, made up of 200 farmers, she often produced the biggest cotton harvests. Wudinesh also led the Womenâ€™s Spinning Association and was an accomplished artisan, spinning cotton by hand, a revered practice in Ethiopia. A mother of seven, she was committed to encouraging more women to take part in PAN's training programme and was a fantastic advocate for the benefits of growing organic cotton. Farewell Wudinesh, you will be missed.
Pesticide Action Network UK
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We work tirelessly to apply pressure to governments, regulators, policy makers, industry and retailers to reduce the impacts of harmful pesticides to both human health and the environment.
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