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  • Pesticide-Free Cambridge

PAN-UK's Supermarkets and Pesticides Rankings

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Update (25 Jan 2022)

A quick update on our post below from 2 Dec 2021. We were grateful to have the opportunity to meet with PAN-UK's Pesticide-Free Towns team on 20 Dec to discuss their pesticide-free supermarkets campaign including the concern that we expressed our post regarding the lack of emphasis on non-gardening pesticides in their study. This was a very useful meeting that helped us to understand why only gardening chemicals were included in their questionnaires to supermarkets. As they explained to us, there are different labelling laws in the UK for 'plant protection chemicals' (ie those pesticides applied directly to plants, and generally sold in the gardening section of supermarkets), and all other household pesticides including insecticides such as ant powder and fly/wasp sprays (usually sold in the house hold products aisles) which are listed under separate Biocides labelling legislation. We now understand better why the latter need to be tackled through a separate campaign/survey, and hope very much that the current emphasis on 'plant protection' / gardening chemicals will help ultimately to raise awareness about the broader sale of pesticide products in supermarkets, and moreover their harmful impact on human health, biodiversity and the environment. Many thanks to the Pesticide-Free Towns team for their wonderful work, and for the support that they extend to the individual campaigning groups, including us here at Pesticide-Free Cambridge.

Copy of original Facebook post, dated 2 Dec 2021.

Pesticide Action Network UK has published its latest supermarkets & pesticides rankings. Great work, but why were only gardening #pesticides included in the survey? Iceland is at the bottom of the ranking on account of its approach to pesticides in the production chain of the food it sells, but this doesn't take account the huge amounts of toxic pesticides that it sells in its stores. Why? Because the survey only included gardening products (which Iceland doesn't sell) in its questioning about supermarket pesticide sales.

Huge amounts of carbamate and pyrethroid-based ant powder, insect sprays, moth repellants etc are sold in Iceland as well as the higher ranking supermarkets such as Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Coop, but these were excluded from the survey despite the fact that cholinesterase-inhibiting carbamates for example are considerably more toxic and environmentally persistent than glyphosate based herbicides. Moreover, many such products are indeed used outside on patios, in gardens, and around the edges of buildings as well as indoor environments. We need to challenge the assumption that a) non-gardening pesticides don't affect outdoor spaces, wildlife and biodiversity, and b) that the boundaries between indoor and outdoor environments are fixed and impervious. And the most important point is that all pesticides, whether sold in the gardening section, the seasonal Christmas/Easter/Summer aisle, or the 'household products' aisle, are equally harmful to people and nature.

If we are to truly get pesticides out of our homes, gardens and urban/rural spaces, let's now put the pressure on to get ALL pesticides removed from supermarkets including those marketed as household products.

[JS @ PFC]

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