On Friday 8th January, the UK government decided to allow the use of a neonicotinoid-based pesticide, thiamethoxam in emergencies. They had previously pledged to maintain a ban on this chemical in line with the EU’s stance towards neonicotinoids. The UK is not the only country to make this decision, with 11 others also permitting the use of this pesticide in emergencies. These countries include Belgium, Denmark and Spain. These are not the first European countries to lift the ban of thiamethoxam on sugar beet fields; France has already lifted their ban on neonicotinoids. The news headlines and Twitter uproar resulting from this decision suggests that the public are unhappy with this decision.           This disapproval appears to derive largely from the knowledge that these pesticides are harmful to bees. There are, however, further complexities which have been largely unnoticed or ignored by these commentators, both…
SPRINT recently attended a fascinating talk at the Oxford Real Farming Conference. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh shared their findings surrounding why pesticides may, paradoxically, benefit crop pests. The research was born from the work by a French agronomist, Francis Chaboussou.  Who was Chaboussou? Chaboussou was an agronomist who observed that agrochemicals were leading to more pressure from pests than without them. He wondered: why is this? He then dedicated his life to finding out both through experiments and reviewing the literature. What were Chaboussou’s findings? The central idea developed by Chaboussou is that most pests depend on the availability of amino acids, which are the building blocks for proteins, which are vital for plant growth and repair. Plants make proteins out of amino acids through a complex process. Before amino acids have been used up in this process, they provide a good source of food for pests and parasites.…
What are ‘plant protection products’? The term ‘plant protection product’ refers to ‘pesticides’. These chemicals are used by farmers, gardeners and foresters to protect crops and increase their yields. Pesticides contain active ingredients such as toxic chemicals, plant extracts, pheromones, micro-organisms or viruses for controlling unwanted ‘pests’.  These ‘pests’ can include insects (insecticides), fungi (fungicides) or plants (herbicides).    Due to the risks associated with PPPs, European regulations[1] place limits on how they are used. These regulations are based on the risks to human and environmental health associated with the active ingredients of PPPs.    Why do farmers need PPPs?  Farmers are under pressure to produce enough food, to feed a growing population, to remain profitable, and to sustain the environment.  High levels of pests place additional stress on their ability to achieve these goals due to the impacts on plant yields.   PPPs are part of the solution to this…