February 2021 | ISSUE 124
An international perspective on the health & environmental effects of pesticides
THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF ROUNDUP ON A KEYSTONE AQUATIC SPECIES Dramatic rise in global pesticide poisonings revealed
Where is Govt support for pesticide-free towns & cities?
Exposure to pesticide cocktails puts bumblebees at risk
WHERE IS GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR PESTICIDE-FREE TOWNS AND CITIES? By Jon Burke, Hackney Councillor (2014-2020) The UK Government is reviewing our relationship with pesticides right now and has some crucial decisions to make which will affect the future of people and wildlife across the UK for decades to come. With ever increasing evidence revealing the extent of the harms caused by pesticides, it has never been more important to get it right. Scientists are sounding the
active role in securing a sustainable future for my child. I planned to push through improvements on energy and waste, but did not expect that one of my key focuses in one of London’s most urban boroughs would be on eliminating pesticides. It remains largely unknown that pesticides are sprayed liberally in most UK towns and cities. Almost all of the chemicals
Wild flowers left to grow in a tree pit on a pavement.
alarm – we are hurtling towards the sixth mass extinction, putting the very survival of humanity at risk. It is in large part the environmental crisis that drove me to stand to be a Councillor in the London Borough of Hackney in 2014. I’d just become a father for the first time and knew that I wanted to play an
used are herbicides (‘weedkillers’) designed to do little more than keep public spaces looking neat and tidy. Glyphosate – the most common herbicide in the world, classified as a ‘probable human carcinogen’ by the World Health Organization – makes up three-quarters of the total.
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In 2017, I travelled around Germany with my family and was struck by the amount and variety of plant life allowed to flourish in its towns and cities. Unsurprisingly, there were visibly many more insects in the air than I was used to in London. I returned to the UK inspired and immediately set about exploring how Hackney could eliminate pesticide use wherever possible. Hackney Council was at that time using pesticides in its town centres, parks and playgrounds and on streets and housing estates, so the challenge was a significant one. Our first task was to identify busy roads in the borough which we could immediately stop spraying because
season and changed the way we sprayed pesticides to make it much more targeted. Inspired by the progress already made, I then launched the Hackney ‘no spray zone’ in 2019 and we immediately stopped spraying all streets, green spaces and housing estates in the area. The results were extremely positive – the predicted barrage of resident complaints about untidiness never came and, after the first year, ecologists reported 62 plant species of 26 families in the area. The nospray area was extended and, in late 2020, I announced a complete end to pesticide use on over 200 housing estates. Thanks to all these efforts,
A tree pit that has been sprayed with weedkiller.
the constant footfall prevented Hackney Council has so far reduced its plants from growing. This small step pesticide use by around 80%, not only alone ended pesticide use on over better protecting the environment but 100km of walkways and saved the also the health of both council workers council £10,000 every year. Next, and the general public. we stopped spraying the borough’s Buckwheat growing at Curtis Farm town centres, reduced the number Image cover: George Young discussing his agroforestry plans for the future of treatments from four to three per Credits: Benjamin Youd @benjaminyoud
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I am a strong advocate of local authorities going pesticide-free in the manner that Hackney has; delivering financial savings, improving biodiversity and drastically reducing residents’ exposure to chemicals. The pesticidefree movement is growing around the world and, while we lag behind countries such as France and Belgium, more than 40 UK councils have already taken action to end or significantly reduce their pesticide use and more are joining all the time. The UK’s pesticide-free movement is led by determined local councillors and residents, taking it upon themselves to push for change. The Government offers zero support or even direction on urban pesticide use. Its aspiration in the 25 Year Environment Plan to “Help people improve their health and wellbeing by using green spaces” ignores the fact that most green spaces are regularly sprayed with pesticides.
The Government has launched a public consultation to help decide how pesticides will be used across the UK. Including a commitment to end the use of urban pesticides, as we have done in Hackney, would bring benefits for human health and urban biodiversity. Many councils around the UK have already done it showing that it is possible. As a former Hackney Councillor, I urge the UK Government to take this unprecedented opportunity to commit to phasing out the use of pesticides in urban areas. If the Government sets a clear direction of travel local councils will follow and we can transform the UK’s towns and cities into places in which people and nature can thrive. Jon Burke was a Councillor at Hackney Council from 2014 to 2020 and a Hackney Council Cabinet Member from 2016 to 2020.
A pesticide-free pilot area, Hackney. Left to right: Cllr Feryal Demirci, Jon Burke and Nick Mole, PAN UK’s Policy Officer.
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THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF ROUNDUP ON A KEYSTONE AQUATIC SPECIES Prolonged exposure to concentrations of the weedkiller Roundup that are well below what is deemed safe by regulatory agencies, causes significant harm to freshwater species according to new research at the University of Birmingham. A team at the University’s School of Biosciences used waterfleas, or Daphnia magna, to test the effects of long-term exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup. They found that even at approved regulatory levels, the weedkiller causes embryonic development failure, significant DNA damage, and interferes with the animals’ metabolism and gut function. These findings are particularly worrying since Daphnia are at the heart of aquatic food webs. Impact on these species can have cascading effects on the rest of the ecosystem. Moreover, the effects of the weedkiller are amplified through the food chain – every time a small organism is eaten by a larger one, the concentration of the chemical may increase, eventually affecting humans with illness. Like canaries used in coal mines to assess air poisoning, Daphnia are alerting us to chemical pollution in water.
first appeared on the market in the 1970s. Claims that it causes diseases and disorders ranging from cancer to autism stack up against industry-paid reports arguing that the product has no untoward effects. “The root of the problem is that much of the evidence collected by industry uses outdated toxicity tests which only look at the number of animals that die on exposure to unrealistic concentrations of these chemicals. These tests overlook the pathological effects arising from long-term exposure to low doses and only look at one adverse effect. We exposed Daphnia to very high doses of Roundup and lethality was not observed in short term exposures, whereas effects were significantly high in long-term exposures to much lower doses of the weedkiller.
Lead researcher, Dr Luisa Orsini, says: “Research surrounding Roundup has been controversial since it
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A) Non-exposed Daphnia looks healthy and carries many parthenogenetic eggs; B) Daphnia exposed to Roundup is malformed with aborted eggs in the brood pouch. The exoskeleton does not protect the core body as it should.
“What we’re proposing is a modernization of how toxicity is measured by using a system biology approach that looks at what happens to the animal at a molecular and fitness level following long-term exposure, encompassing the entire animal life cycle.” This ‘systems biology’ approach will enable researchers to understand the changes caused by these chemicals on fundamental functions, such as the ability to metabolize sugars or to repair wound tissue. By using similarity in molecular functions across species, the researchers can also infer the implications of these chemicals on other species, including humans. This analysis can be also used to understand how other chemicals affect living organisms based on similarity of chemical structure, toxicological properties and technical functions, enabling the monitoring of chemical groups rather than single chemicals. The team is working with the UK Environment Agency to bring new methods to regulatory agencies to screen for chemicals and their effect on biodiversity. Scientists and the Environment Agency have a long term goal of modernizing environmental
practice to more effectively regulate the use of chemicals and mitigate their impact on humans and the environment. “Using our methods it will be possible to identify and rank the most harmful chemicals that are getting into the environment, providing regulators with the correct information to prioritize regulation of the most poisonous chemicals” says Dr Orsini. “We use thousands of chemicals in our everyday life and we cannot be expected to drop them all in one step, but by identifying the worst offenders, we can work with industrial partners in a more targeted and effective way.”
Dr Luisa Orsini is an Associate Professor in Biosystems and Environmental Change at the University of Birmingham (UoB). She uses multidisciplinary science to understand evolutionary processes and mechanisms that enable freshwater communities, responsible for delivering critical ecosystem services to persist in the face of human impact. Twitter: @luorgen
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DRAMATIC RISE IN GLOBAL PESTICIDE POISONINGS REVEALED A comprehensive new study, published in the BMC Public Health Journal, reports that pesticide poisonings around the world have risen dramatically since the last global assessment 30 years ago. Based on an evaluation of available poisoning data from countries all over the world, the researchers conclude that there are about 385 million cases of acute poisonings each year, up from an estimated 25 million cases in 1990. This means that about 44% of the global population working on farms — 860 million farmers and agricultural workers – are poisoned every year. “These numbers are shocking, but unsurprising,” says Dr Keith Tyrell, Director of PAN UK. “The tragedy is that these poisonings are avoidable – safe and sustainable alternatives exist, and experience from countries like Sri Lanka shows that banning highly hazardous pesticides can be done at low cost with little or no impact on productivity.” Total fatalities around the world from unintended pesticide poisonings are estimated at around 11,000 deaths per year. Nearly 60% of which occur in just one country, India, indicating serious problems with pesticide use, according to the researchers. “Pesticide poisonings are a public health crisis that must be addressed,” said Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of PAN Asia Pacific.
“Beyond the immediate suffering, poisonings can also reflect exposure that cause long term, chronic health effects. It’s shocking and shameful that this problem has gotten worse rather than better over the past 30 years.” The authors conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature published between 2006 and 2018, selecting a total of 157 papers after assessing over 800 papers for eligibility according to set criteria, and additional data from the WHO cause-of-death database. The data covered 141 countries in total. Most studies focused on occupational poisonings, particularly of farmers and agricultural workers. The heavy burden of non-fatal unintended pesticide poisonings, particularly for farmers and farmworkers, brings into focus the current policy bias towards focusing only on fatalities, and the need to more seriously address the overall pesticide poisoning problem in international and national policies and regulations. Note: While this study did not cover pesticide poisoning suicides, an estimated 14 million people have died from suicide using pesticides since the Green Revolution in the 1960s. A recent systematic review of data on suicides from 2006-2015, which this review did not cover, found that pesticides accounted for 14-20% of global suicides leading to 110,000-168,000 deaths annually during the period 2010-2014.
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Worldwide poisonings up from 25 million in 1990 to 385 million today
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ORGANISATIONS UNITE AGAINST NEONICOTINOIDS DECISION Rt Hon George Eustice, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF 12th January 2021 Dear Secretary of State, We are extremely disappointed to hear that the UK Government has decided to grant an emergency derogation allowing sugar beet producers to use seeds treated with the bee-toxic neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. Thiamethoxam was banned for all outdoor uses by the EU in 2018 because of the risk it poses to bees and other vital pollinator species. The UK Government supported the ban with then Defra Secretary Michael Gove saying that, “Unless the scientific evidence changes, the government will maintain these increased restrictions post-Brexit”. The UK Government’s decision to support the neonics ban was based on advice from its own advisory body on pesticides which stated that “scientific evidence now suggests the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoids – particularly to our bees and pollinators – are greater than previously understood, supporting the case for further restrictions.” The risk of this decision to sugar beet yields was also understood and taken into account. Since then, the body of evidence detailing the negative impact of neonicotinoids on not just bees and pollinators but also birds and other wildlife has only grown. Allowing farmers to use these harmful pesticides ignores the science and seriously undermines the UK Government’s own objective to leave the environment in a better state than it found it. The mitigation measures suggested to reduce the impact on bees from this decision includes increasing the use of herbicides to destroy flowering plants so that bees are not attracted to the fields, therefore further damaging important wildlife habitat such as hedgerows and adjacent meadows. There is also no mitigation proposed for the predicted harm caused to aquatic life as surface waters are polluted. This derogation harms wildlife without actually providing an exit strategy from reliance on banned pesticides for sugar beet farmers. The government has an opportunity here to take a different course, to help farmers tackle the ecological emergency and adapt to climate change. As a group of academics, farmers, faith leaders and individuals and organisations representing a broad range of environmental and health concerns we urge the UK government to reverse this decision and instead invest in supporting farmers to research and adopt non-chemical alternatives to farm with nature instead of against it. We also request that you publish the evidence that led to this derogation being approved, when a similar application in 2018 was rejected on environmental grounds. Yours sincerely, and on behalf of the organisations and individuals below,
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PLAYGROUNDS CONTAMINATED WITH PESTICIDE DRIFT ALL YEAR ROUND A new study, published in Environmental Sciences Europe has found the year-round pesticide contamination of public sites near intensively managed agricultural areas in South Tyrol, Italy.
Residue data was analysed from 96 grass samples collected in spring, summer, autumn, and winter by the South Tyrolean Medical Service in 19 public playgrounds, four schoolyards, and one marketplace located within intensively managed agricultural landscapes. Samples were analyzed for 281 substances using gas-chromatography and massspectrometry.
A total of 32 pesticide residues were found proving that pesticide drift is contaminating public spaces. The pesticide concentrations found have proven to be relatively low. However, in the case of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) the level of concentration has little relevance as EDCs do not function on a doseresponse pattern. The majority of the examined substances (76%) were EDCs, which are associated with several types of cancer, infertility, developmental and behavioural disorders and diabetes. Some of the pesticide concentrations measured exceeded European maximum residue levels for food. PAN Germany’s expert toxicologist, Peter Clausing, commented: "The samples analysed allow us to conclude that such pesticide residues could also be found in the fruit and vegetables of adjacent gardens. In this case, the EU limit of permitted value would be exceeded significantly“. PAN Europe co-author, Koen Hertoge, says: "This study is yet more scientific proof calling on those responsible to find solutions in order to protect publich health. The researchers see an urgent need for action in order to reduce pesticide drift and protect public health, such as the improvement of application techniques, the strict observance of wind conditions and a move towards farming free of pesticides.
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ALTERNATIVES TO HERBICIDES: A NEW GUIDE FOR THE AMENITY SECTOR With a climate change emergency, collapsing biodiversity and a global health crisis underway it is imperative that our urban spaces become healthier places for people and wildlife. The body of evidence linking pesticides to serious human health and environmental harms is growing, as is the movement to end their use. ‘Pesticides’ is a collective term for products designed to kill pests, including (but not limited to) herbicides (designed to kill plants), insecticides and fungicides. They aren’t just used on farms and in gardens but also in the amenity sector which includes towns and cities, sports pitches and transport infrastructure such as roads and railway tracks. The vast majority of pesticides used in the amenity sector are herbicides, designed to kill weeds and grasses growing in so called undesirable places. But, we no longer want manicured lawns, weedfree verges and sterile parks and playgrounds drenched in pesticides.
already gone pesticide-free, details the benefits of switching to a non-chemical weed control approach and lists other useful resources and companies supplying herbicide-free alternatives. In the UK, more than 65 councils, ranging from parish to district and county level, are already taking action to stop or significantly reduce their use of herbicides. But this guide is also relevant to all land managers with responsibility for weed control. Areas such as golf courses, railways, motorways, hospitals, housing and universities, to name a few, are all major users of herbicides and we hope that this guide will benefit them too.
In light of this, and to support local authorities and other land managers in their move to making our towns and cities pesticide-free, we have published a new guide on sustainable alternatives to herbicides. The guide includes approaches to weed control ranging from letting plants grow wherever possible in order to support biodiversity to mechanical methods and new technology. It includes case studies of UK towns and cities that have
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EXPOSURE TO COCKTAILS OF PESTICIDES & PATHOGENS PUT BUMBLEBEES AT RISK By Dr Cristina Botias There is a pressing need to better understand the factors contributing to declines of wild pollinators such as bumblebees. Many different contributors have been postulated including habitat loss, pesticides, emerging diseases and climate change. Past research has tended to investigate the impacts of these stressors in isolation, despite the increasing recognition that bees are simultaneously exposed to a combination of stressors, with potentially additive or synergistic effects. Bees foraging in both farmland and gardens are frequently exposed to mixtures of pesticides and are also impacted by a diversity of native and emerging pathogens, the latter including one suspected to seriously affect their health, the microsporidium Nosema ceranae, which infects the gut epithelia of adult bees. Few previous studies have attempted to examine the complex interacting effects of exposure to multiple stressors. In a recent paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology we evaluated how combined effects of four common environmental stressors, the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, the pyrethroid cypermethrin, the EBIfungicide tebuconazole and the gut parasite N. ceranae, interact to affect bumblebees at the individual and colony levels.
We established seven treatment groups of colonies that we exposed to different combinations of these stressors for two weeks under laboratory conditions. Colonies were subsequently placed in the field for seven weeks to evaluate the effect of treatments on various measures of bee health. These included the prevalence of N. ceranae, expression levels of immunity and detoxificationrelated genes, food collection, colony weight gain, worker and male numbers, and production of worker brood and reproductives. We found that exposure to pesticide mixtures reduced food collection by bumblebees. Furthermore, all immunity-related genes were upregulated in the bumblebees inoculated with N. ceranae when they had not been exposed to pesticides, indicating that pesticide mixtures may interfere with the transcription of some genes encoding defense mechanisms to pathogen challenge. Previous research showed that exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides leads to immuno-suppression in honeybees, which in turn promotes the replication of pathogens in insects with covert infections. Our study did not find a correlation between exposure to thiamethoxam and the prevalence of N. ceranae, but exposure to both the fungicide and the pyrethroid led to
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lower prevalence of this pathogen. There are clearly interactions between pesticide exposure and parasites that we do not yet understand. At the colony level, combined exposure to the three-pesticide mixture and N. ceranae reduced bumblebee colony growth, and all treatments had detrimental effects on brood production compared to controls. More significantly, colonies exposed to the neonicotinoid insecticide produced 40-76% fewer queens than control colonies. Bumblebees, like solitary bees, have an annual lifecycle whereby reproductive females (queens) initiate a colony in the spring. The success of a colony can be measured in the number of reproductives (i.e., males and queens) produced at the end of the season, as only they will contribute to initiating new colonies in the following spring. Therefore, the large reduction in queens in the colonies exposed to mixtures containing neonicotinoid insecticides may lead to serious effects on bumblebee population dynamics.
Understanding the interactions between different stressors will be crucial for improving our ability to mitigate pressures on wild bee populations and ensure pollination services for crops and wildflowers into the future. It also has significant implications for current practices and policies for pesticide risk assessment, which focus exclusively on evaluating the impact of exposing otherwise healthy bees to one pesticide at a time. This is a poor representation of the real world where bees (and other organisms) are likely to encounter pesticides in combination while also trying to cope with other stressors.
Overall, our findings show that exposure to combinations of stressors that bumblebees frequently come into contact with has detrimental effects on colony health and performance and could therefore have an impact at the population level. These results are worrying since the variety of chemical, physical, and biological stressors associated with global change that represent potential environmental hazards to pollinators, such as bumblebees, has increased rapidly in recent years.
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Dr Cristina Botías is a Research Fellow at the Apicultural and Agrienvironmental Research Center (CIAPA-IRIAF, Spain), working on a range of applied research related to bee health.
IS FAO IN THE POCKET OF THE PESTICIDE INDUSTRY? Towards the end of 2020, Qu Dongyu, the Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced his intention to develop a new partnership with CropLife (the pesticides industry trade body) to transform agri-food systems. This marks a major departure for FAO, which has carefully guarded its impartiality and resisted the industry’s overtures in the past. If this partnership goes ahead, it will give CropLife’s companies greater access to new markets in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). Beth Bechdol, the FAO Deputy Director who negotiated the deal, said it would open “new channels of communication for private sector partners with FAO’s country offices and national governments”. In effect, this new deal would turn FAO into the marketing arm of the pesticide industry. CropLife often tries to present itself as a “responsible” part of the global pesticide industry, but the reality is that over a third of the products sold by CropLife companies are classed as Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) – these are the pesticides that are behind most poisoning cases and environmental destruction. A number of FAO’s initiatives to minimise external inputs and conserve genetic diversity are a direct threat to CropLife’s business. There is a real concern that the proposed partnership
could lead to FAO backing away from its commitments to phase out HHPs and promote effective agroecological alternatives to CropLife’s most dangerous products. It is clear why CropLife is keen on the partnership – not only will it help sell its products, but it will also lend this toxic sector a veneer of respectability. Nearly four years ago, Hilal Elver and Baskut Tuncak, the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food and Toxics, highlighted unethical practices used by the pesticide industry – including CropLife members – such as aggressive marketing tactics, huge sums spent to influence policymakers and undermining scientific evidence. They specifically warned that “… pesticide manufacturers cultivate strategic “public-private” partnerships that call into question their culpability or help bolster the companies’ credibility”. The bottom line is that CropLife is a collection of private companies whose primary goal is to maximise profits and sell more of their products regardless of whether it is in the best interest of the farmer or of the environment. FAO on the other hand has a mandate to act independently to promote safe and sustainable forms of agriculture that work for farmers and conserves their environments. There is an inherent conflict between these two priorities and this partnership should be abandoned.
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UPDATE In November 2020, 352 civil society and Indigenous Peoples organisations, as well as hundreds of academics, sent a letter of deep concern to Qu Dongyu, Director General of the FAO, urging him to reconsider the alliance with CropLife International. Yesterday (25th February 2021), a coalition of the original organisers of the letter, sent a formal request to meet with Qu Dongyu to ask once again that FAO's partnership with CropLife be abandoned and that an integrated policy be developed to prevent conflict of interests to ensure that corporate 'solutions' are not influencing the FAO's work on sustainability, further threatening biodivesity, human health and food sovereignty.
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AN UPDATE ON THE IMPACT OF COVID ON PAN UK SUSTAINABLE COTTON PROJECTS IN ETHIOPIA AND BENIN Improving situation in Ethiopia The pandemic has created a heavy workload for field staff, who doubled the number of training sessions in our Farmer Field Schools in order to accommodate participating farmers in smaller group sizes. Happily, the situation is now much improved. Most COVID restrictions have been lifted and meetings are possible again, with suitable precautions. In the latter quarter of 2020 the team has been able to resume normal training activities and catch up on the women’s enterprise support activities and organic certification. Limitations on travel reduced farmers’ opportunities to market their cotton. Fortunately PAN Ethiopia was able to step in, helping to secure an agreement with the textile company MNS to buy seed cotton from the organic cooperative as well as part of the cotton from cooperatives that are still in conversion to organic. The scale of the wider economic impact of COVID is not yet fully understood, but it is likely to be very significant. The hope is that the resilience of PAN Ethiopia’s trained farmers will help them through this period of uncertainty. Their ability to grow a diverse range of crops and achieve good yields without expensive inputs, the supply of which has been disrupted by the pandemic, puts them in a stronger position to get through the tough economic times ahead.
High demand for organic cotton from Benin Benin seems to have escaped the most disruptive impacts of the virus so far. The most significant impact for the project in Benin seems to be a large rise in demand for West African organic cotton in global markets. The causes are complex, including the disruption of the conventional textile sector by the pandemic and a reduced supply of organic cotton, which has not kept up with global demand. The previously rather indifferent national authorities in Benin are now expressing more interest in expanding and encouraging the organic sector. The Director of PAN UK’s partner in Benin (Obepab), Prof. Simplice Davo Vodouhe, has been asked by the Government to draft a national strategy for the organic sector. The spike in value of the cotton may provide Obepab a valuable opportunity to secure additional resources for organic producers.
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NEW BOOK: DAILY POISON BY JOHANN G. ZALLER Why did you feel this book needed to be written? I wanted to bring to light the pesticide addiction of conventional agriculture. As an ecologist, I wanted to create a more systemic picture of the effects of pesticides including the ecotoxicology, biodiversity, human toxicolog and economic issues.
Who is your book for? The book is aimed mainly at non-scientists, but there is also much of relevance to academics. The book is a resource for anyone who wants to know the nature and background of pesticides and how we come into contact with them in our daily lives.
What were a couple of your most surprising findings? A few facts I was shocked to discover are that there are still many pesticides in use that are carcinogenic; Parkinson’s is a recognized occupational disease for winemakers in France; we find pesticide residues everywhere including in our bodies, in wildlife, in soils, in water; and that there are double-standards that allow the export of highly hazardous pesticides to other countries despite being banned in the country of production. It was also surprising to learn of the reductionistic approach that underlies the environmental risk assessment of pesticides. The real-world situation is largely ignored, without taking into account the use of multiple-pesticides (we have crops that get 30 different pesticides applied in one season), multigenerational effects, species interactions, chronic and sublethal effects. Even the influence of varying environmental conditions such as temperature or moisture are ignored.
What is the message you most want to convey? The main point I hope the books makes is that pesticide-intensive agriculture is not inevitable - it just has the most money and power behind it to push forward. It is essential to keep the precautionary principle as our leading concept: as long as there are doubts about the safety of a substances, ban its use.
Johann G. Zaller is an Associate Professor of Ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria. Twitter: @JZaller
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IN MEMORY OF EILEEN MAYBIN It is with great sadness that I write to report the passing of a dear friend of PAN UK. Eileen Maybin was a Trustee of PAN UK for over fifteen years and her insight and expertise was always valuable. She made a massive contribution to PAN during her time on the board and was the first Trustee I met when I joined PAN in 2010. Her kindness and generosity of spirit was immediately apparent, as was her mischievous sense of humour. Eileen was always smiling and usually laughing; she was one of those people who lit up a room just by being in it. Eileen came from Strabane and she never lost her Northern Irish accent. She started out as a Journalist in Zimbabwe before moving into PR and communications in the NGO/Charity Sector initially at Christian Aid and then, for many years as Head of Media at the Fairtrade Foundation. Her last role was as Media Manager at Muslim Aid. In spite of holding down these high profile and high pressure jobs, Eileen was incredibly generous with her time and always found space to support PAN UK, no matter how busy she was.
Her interest in pesticides was spurred by a family tragedy, when her cousin, a potato farmer, died of a lung disease which Eileen blamed on his many years working with pesticides. Her passion grew as her work with Fairtrade brought her into direct contact with farmers in the global south where pesticide poisoning remains an all too common problem. For me, Eileen’s defining characteristic was her sense of social justice, and this shone through in everything she did. She had strong personal values and she did her best to live by them. That’s not to say she was puritanical and sober – quite the opposite – it’s just that, put simply, Eileen was a good person who did her best to live a good life. In doing so, she quietly and without fuss, made the world a better place. I know that I speak for all of my colleagues at PAN UK, and Board members past and present, when I say I will miss her and feel lucky to have known and worked with her. Keith Tyrell, Director, PAN UK
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