Pollution in English rivers prompts call for overall reduction of chemicals on farmland

New tests have revealed the extent to which English rivers are contaminated with powerful insecticides. Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK) are calling on the Government to commit to an overall reduction in pesticide use.

Half of the 16 English rivers tested showed either acute or chronic levels of neonicotinoid contamination according to reports by The Guardian and Euractiv.

The EU is expected to ban the use of neonicotinoids on all outdoor use due to the harm they cause to bees and other pollinators. Evidence is also growing that neonicotinoids harm songbirds and other species.

Josie Cohen, Head of Policy and Campaigns at PAN UK (who are a member of Sustain) says this research is “yet another nail in the coffin for the use of these toxic pesticides.

“Michael Gove’s recent pledge to maintain the ban on neonics once we leave the EU will provide some respite to bees, birds and insects. However, if the government truly wants to deliver the Green Brexit it promised, then we need a commitment to an overall reduction in pesticide use and a significant increase in support to farmers and growers using sustainable non-chemical alternatives.”

These were the first systematic tests of neonictinoids in British rivers. The results show that of the 23 rivers tested across Britain only six were free of neonictinoid pollution.

Food and Farming Policy


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Food and Farming Policy: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.



Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.