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Monitoring pesticide use and alternatives

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:15 pm, 5th March 2020

I assure the hon. Gentleman that our eyes are very open when it comes to ensuring that the use of pesticides is minimised, and that pesticide usage and its effects are carefully monitored. Current policies address these points already. Strict regulation only allows pesticide use when scientific risk assessments predict that there will be no harm to people and no unacceptable effects on the environment. Existing monitoring schemes cover each of the points proposed in the amendment. They report on the level of usage of each pesticide and on residue levels in food. They also collect and consider reports about possible harm to people or the environment.

The Government support good work to research, develop and promote means to move away from pesticides, which I am sure is our collective aim. These include: plant breeding for pest-resistant varieties; the use of natural predators; the development of biopesticides; and the use of a variety of cultural methods to reduce pest pressures.

The Government intend to continue to develop and refine our approach to pesticides. The 25-year environment plan is where the hon. Gentleman will find most of these details. The plan emphasises the importance of integrated pest management. That means not only that pesticides are used well, but that the approach to farming minimises the need for pesticides and that alternative methods are used wherever possible. Where these practices are shown to help to deliver public goods, they may well be funded under the new environmental land management schemes. We will determine in more detail which ELMS will pay for what as we develop the schemes in the future.

The approach set out in the 25-year environment plan is the right one and we hope that it will minimise pesticide use, help to reduce risks and strongly encourage the uptake of alternatives to pesticides. Alongside the maintenance and development of effective monitoring, this approach will deliver the main outcomes sought by the hon. Gentleman’s amendment.