I asked the Government what steps they are taking to protect rural communities from pesticides and whether they intend to adopt non-chemical farming methods post-Brexit. It is almost inevitable that my question achieves little more than raising a neglected issue on behalf of neglected communities. However, it does allow other peers to join in with their own set of constituent concerns or issues.
The government claims that: “Pesticides are highly regulated so that they do not harm people or the environment. This work is led by the Health and Safety Executive and the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides, which have a deserved reputation for rigour.”
I responded by saying that Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Ian Boyd, has said that laboratory results from the testing of chemicals cannot be trusted when those chemicals are used on an industrial scale for farming. I asked the Minister what the Government thinks a safe level of pesticide use is and how are the Government monitoring those levels in rural areas?
The government claims that the regulatory system is robust, but the truth is that this system of oversight has holes in it. The lack of any limit on the total amount of pesticides used and the virtual absence of monitoring of their effects in the environment means it can take years for the impacts to become apparent.
Of course, we know that problems are already recurring, as I discussed in this previous article.