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  • Pesticide-Free Cambridge

Waitrose's toxic gardening section: supermarkets need to stop normalising synthetic pesticides

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Why is Waitrose still selling #pesticides when they made a big show of removing glyphosate from their shelves in 2016? The gardening section of the #Cambridge#Hauxton Road #Waitrose branch looks like this! Please write to your local supermarket to ask them to stop selling this stuff.

The sale of #pesticides in #supermarkets normalises the association between gardening and toxic chemicals and the destruction of nature.. In the midst of our biodiversity crisis, we are witnessing unprecedented declining bee numbers due largely to increased agricultural pesticide use. And with the rise of physical and mental health problems connected with the pandemic lockdown, we are all being encouraged to get out into 'nature' and to spend time in our gardens. But so many gardens are in fact laced with poisons that destroy insects and urgently-needed wildlife, and moreover are hazardous for both humans or pets.

In 2016 Waitrose announced that it was stopping the sale of glyphosate-based herbicides in its stores, in response to several high case legal cases involving pesticide-injury claims of grounds contractors who had worked with such products -

However Waitrose's continued sale of insecticides that are even more toxic than #glyphosate-based #herbicides renders such a move completely senseless; as does the fact that the grounds and carpark of the Cambridge branch of Waitrose continue to be sprayed regularly with the very same glyphosate-based herbicide that they choose not to sell to their customers. Against these two facts it is hard not to not think of its decision to remove only glyphosate from its shelves as an extreme form of disingenuous virtue signalling.

Please write to your local supermarket whichever one you shop at, and ask them to remove ALL synthetic herbicides and insecticides from their shelves in the interests of #biodiversity and health, and to follow the example of the Coop that as of 1 April has stopped selling garden chemicals in response to Pesticide Action Network UK's (PAN UK) Toxic Supermarkets campaign. See here for further details and an email template for writing to your supermarket -

Remember, however, that supermarket pesticides are not only found in the Garden Section. Many pesticides, for the control of wasps, ants, flies and moths for instance, are sold in the 'household items' aisle next to relatively benign cleaning products such as washing-up liquid and laundry powder. This is extremely dangerous because it perpetuates the misconception that domestic insecticides belong to the same category as regular cleaning products. The unfortunate result is that many people assume that domestic insecticides are as harmless and as necessary as hand soap, when in fact, research demonstrates links between synthetic insecticides and a host of acute and chronic illnesses (see our main website under FURTHER READING for details).

Moreover, we need to challenge the idea that insects are always something that need to be destroyed. In short, we need to get over our deep-seated fear of insects in particular, and 'nature' in general and think more about the engrained worldviews and attitudes about nature that have brought us to the situation whereby a tiny ant can be fumigated with nerve agents such as carbamates that have been used in chemical warfare! We will be posting about this issue in the next few days, but if you share our concern about highly toxic poisons being sold next to everyday cleaning products, please remember, if you do write to your local supermarket, to ask them to remove these also.

Supermarkets should be places where one can buy safe and healthy food and essential items. Pesticides that are contributing to the destruction of nature and biodiversity and impacting negatively on human health are neither of these things and should be removed from the shelves.

Finally, please do sign our petition to Cambridge City council to ask them to act in ways towards the environment that better reflect their recent declaration of a biodiversity crisis: principally by phasing out the use of glyphosate base herbicides on public land, but also to educate residents and stakeholders about the dangers of synthetic pesticides in their homes, businesses and gardens.

If you'd like to comment on this blog entry, please contact us or comment on our social media pages:

[JS @ PFC]

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