Shock at Government support of destructive pesticide
From the Soil Association
The UK Government is considering reinstating a pesticide, aminopyralid, which has caused huge amounts of damage to fruit and vegetable crops, and which was withdrawn from the market last year.
Patrick Holden, Director of the Soil Association, has written to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Hilary Benn  urging him to reject a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP)  to reinstate the use of the hormone-based weed killer aminopyralid. This recommendation from the ACP was made following 'stewardship' proposals from Dow Agrosciences, the company producing the pesticide, which they claim will help make use of the product safer. The pesticide is still causing a wide range of crops to fail after its last permitted use in early 2008.
When used on grassland the herbicide remains active even after the crop to which it has been applied has been eaten by a grazing animal, passed through the animal, been stored as farm yard manure and eventually reapplied to another crop. The pesticide caused the failure of a wide range of crops including beans, peas, potatoes and tomatoes, soft fruits and flowers. Aminopyralid attaches itself to organic matter and the length of time it takes to beak down completely is as yet unknown.
Patrick Holden says:
“This pesticide has not been reformulated, nor made safer in any other way. There is no evidence to show that the ‘stewardship’ proposals made by the company producing the pesticide, Dow AgroSciences, will work. The proposals – which include only selling the product in large containers to make it ‘too expensive for casual use’ - provide no guarantee that further damage can be prevented. Indeed, Hilary Benn already knows that this approach does not work. There were already guidelines in place to prevent the use of manure from land treated with aminopyralid from being used for vegetable growing, which did not stop serious contamination incidents from occurring.”
Defra recently published documents as part of a consultation on food security which discussed the importance of the general public growing their own food.  The contamination of crops in gardens and allotments by aminopyralid has caused high levels of disillusionment and anxiety amongst people growing their own, which may discourage them from doing so in the future. 
 Letter to Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs[PDF, 80KB]
 The Advisory Committee on Pesticides is a statutory body set up by Ministers to advise on all matters relating to the control of pesticides. For further details see: http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/acp_home.asp
 ‘Food Matters’: One Year On: http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodrin/security/index.htm
 The strength of feeling on this issue can be gauged by the many personal stories of contamination available on the internet.
For example at Green Lane allotments:
Concerned allotment holders, along with members of the ACP, have also drawn attention to the fact that the pesticide is persistent in ground water which could cause problems if vulnerable crops are irrigated with contaminated water.
Minutes of the ACP meeting discussing the issue of contaminated groundwater (Agenda no.5): http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/acp.asp?id=2691
 To sign the number 10 petition in support of a banning products containing aminopyralid see: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/aminopyralidban
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