Category Archives: Pesticides

Information, news and opinion about the use of pesticides in agriculture and horticulture.

NFU supports using banned bee killing pesticide

Only a few weeks into Brexit and the UK wants to ditch the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides which are known to kill bees. The NFU supports the use on this devastating chemical on sugar beet crops. They have been trying push a new green image, yet this shows how their thinking is stuck in the past.

We must wake up and demand a clean, eco friendly food system that does not reply on soaking crops in chemicals that are known to destroy the environment.  We need large scale fundamental change about the way food is produced and how it affects the environment. If we do nothing, then rapid climate breakdown will happen very quickly.

PLEASE click the image to sign the petition, write to your MP and send a Tweet. Even if you don’t normally do this sort of thing please help save bees.

Silent Spring

For many years I have wanted to read Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” but have not got round to it mainly because I thought it would be a bit too full on. Well it is and it is not! First impressions are that considering it was published in 1962 it feels like it was written yesterday.








What has changed in 58 years? Everything and nothing. We are now more deeply committed to high input agrochemical farming and even more reliant on pesticides and other chemicals that have invaded every part of our daily lives.

I was asked recently what is the best thing we can do to increase biodiversity in gardens. My answer is simple, stop using insecticides. There is no excuse for blasting everything with a spray just so it looks nice and kills all those supposedly nasty insects and then wonder why there are so few birds around.

This year Spring in our garden was better, the number of birds seemed to have increased and the dawn chorus returned. Then lock down ended and the birds stopped singing and spring became silent again.

I am left with the feeling that the only thing we have done since 1962 is to speed up trashing everything we depend on. It feels like we are on an increasingly steep downward spiral that will lead to the total destruction of the planet that gives us all we need unless we do something.

So, what can we do?  We can find the courage to be different and not be part of consumerist society where status is determined by ownership of the latest toys. We can find an alternative to factory farmed food soaked in chemicals and wrapped in plastic. That might mean spending a bit more on what we eat and less on holidays, mobile phones, or other non-essential goodies we are coerced into accepting as the norm. Or we do nothing and take it on the chin and leave the next generation with little but a dying planet.

The choice to downsize, consume less and eat organic food is no where near the hair shirt mentality touted by those who want to retain the status quo. It can be liberating, joyful even, like a release from always having to follow the crowd, to keep up, to gain status by being seen to buy the right stuff.

It took a brush with death for me to make new choices 30 years ago and yes, I did see my whole life flash in front of me like a failed B movie. You don’t need to go through that to realise there are better alternatives. Learn from others who have done it be proud to be different. Relax and enjoy what we have right in front of us. Now is the time to change and live differently, seize the moment.

Pesticides in supermarket salad wash water

In the week that the UK parliament voted against laws to maintain our food safety standards it appears that water used to wash salad crops imported from the US and Europe contains neonicotinoids. How do we know? Because it is polluting the rivers it is dumped into!

(Click image to go to the Guardian article.)

People cross a bridge over the River Itchen in Hampshire. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

What is so disturbing is that the companies supplying supermarkets would do this. I know the answers, money, profits, keeping the shareholders happy bolstered by high levels of cynicism and indifference to the effects they are having and health and the environment.

What can we do? Make this as public as possible, ask questions, write to you MP, write to the supermarket you use. And the ultimate solution, bypass the whole production/supermarket process and grow you own salad leaves and watercress, see hope easy it is HERE.

If you want to know how to grow organically without using pesticides, make compost and get large amounts of food from small spaces see our online workshops which start on 22 October 2020

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Pesticides in garden compost

This comes round every few years usually when an agrochemical company has introduced a new wonder. The link below is from the US but there are still reports of herbicides contamination in the UK. The current issue is stunted plants grown where horse manure has been used.

There are reports from the US about residues of Clopyralid contamination in compost from golf courses and hay meadows.

(Click image to read the article)

The answer is simple; only compost material from your own garden but you must not use pesticides in your garden particularly the lawn if you want clean compost. Think of the bees and your kids or grandchildren. Do you want them running round on grass soaked in chemicals?

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Time to plan your BREXIT garden!

The panic to find fresh food may be over for now but there are other problems on the horizon. When we crash out of the EU without a deal the government will cosy up to the US to import their food. When that happens how will you know what you are eating? To find out have a look at this article by Alice Keeffe in The Guardian.

“There has been much ado about the prospect of chlorinated chicken, but the implications of a trade deal with the US are equally grim for fruit and veg. The American government will insist on our loosening regulations around the use of pesticides, so we can look forward to apples containing higher levels of malathion (an organophosphate insecticide linked to cancer which can impair the respiratory system) and grapes with added propargite, an insecticide that has been associated with cancer and can affect sexual function and fertility. Oh yes, and then there are neonicotinoids, all but banned in the UK because of their toxic effect on bees, and chlorpyrifos, banned by the EU over concerns about its impact on the brains of foetuses and young children.”

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate which were used as insecticides. They used to be widespread but were banned in Europe some years back. It is accumulative poison and can be absorbed through the skin. The manufacturers continue to sell them to the developing world and the US. See this piece about child deaths in India.

Do we really want food produced using pesticides that have been banned here? It is time we grew up as a nation and looked after ourselves and the land where we live. There must be a resounding NO from anybody who cares about food, their health and the long term future of this fragile planet.

One answer is to grow your own. Now is a good time to start planning and getting your food garden ready. We are hear to help.

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I rediscovered this book published 2008; it is about the tyranny of front lawns in the US and the environmental disaster caused by the huge overuse of fertilisers and pesticides. It includes a piece by Michael Pollan about his father’s reluctance to conform.

It got me thinking about the new lock down food growers, the frantic activity from March to May and now the quiet. With a lot of talk about Brexit and borders in 2021 there are more urgent issues around food security that need to be addressed. More later.

New French study finds 32 toxic pesticides in the air

The fact that there are airborne residues from farmland spraying is not new. What is concerning is that this study measured the concentrations and type of chemical and found banned products.

The article says there is no evidence of airborne pesticides being a health hazard. That sounds like PR from agrochemical companies trying to avoid litigation. There is a long history of  people living close to farm land  complaining of symptoms when fields are sprayed.

What is really scary about the research is that they found traces of chemicals such as lindane which was banned in the EU in 2008.

It makes sense to ask if there are residues in soil dust. We know that a lot of spray ends up in soil and that some are very persistent so they could linger in soil for many years.

It really is time we stopped drenching food in chemicals however ‘safe’ the manufacturers claim it to be. It is an old fashioned and outdated way of farming that does huge damage to the environment. There are better ways to produce food.

Read the full article here

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Forcing banned pesticides on the UK

The US is putting pressure on the UK government to allow the use of pesticides on food that are banned in the EU. Most dangerous of all would be neonicotinoids that caused the mass death of bees across Europe before they were banned.

Click to follow link

The key finding of the report are here

Trump wants us to slither down the scale of acceptance and be like the US so that we can import their food. We need to resist this at all costs or the environmental destruction and damage to human health will be huge.

Banned pesticides in imported food

With a lot of talk about the UK buying food from ‘the market’  it is no coincidence that Johnson whipped his MPs to get a bill through parliament. The legislation clears the way for the UK to import food without conforming to current UK or EU standards.

Great you might say, as long as it is cheap but it is likely that such food could have been treated with pesticides banned in the UK for many years because of their known effects on human health. Chemicals like organophosphates  which were derived from the gas used in WWII gas chambers.

A new report from Switzerland found alarming levels of residues in imported foods from many Counties including the USA.

The range of produce containing banned pesticides is alarming.

What we must do to preserve the quality of UK food:

  1. Sign the petition the food standards petition here 
  2. Find your MP and write to them to voice your concerns.
  3. Do not buy food from any of the countries on the list above – check the label.
  4. Contact you favourite supermarket asking them if they are aware of the issue and what they are doing about it.
  5. Play safe and only buy fresh fruit and veg that is certified organic.
  6. Grow as much of your own as you can.

Keeping pests away

Organic gardeners do not use sprays to control pests, instead they get very sneaky and use plants as a deterrent. The best known of these is French Marigolds, Tagetes minuta
which have a very strong and distinctive smell.

We are just about to sow seed in the greenhouse. The plants will be used around brassicas and in the greenhouse around the tomatoes.

This is sometimes called companion planting but it is also older gardening knowledge that has been handed down though generations. It seem to work but we have not done any specific trials.

There is some more information here from the Thompson and Morgan web site.

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