Knowledge for better food systems

Post-Brexit trade deals could weaken UK pesticide standards

This report from charity Pesticide Action Network UK compares current UK pesticide regulations with those of the US and Australia - both countries are a priority for post-Brexit trade deals - as well as with those of India. It finds that food sold in the UK could soon be allowed to contain significantly higher levels of hazardous pesticides, if the UK agrees to weaken its pesticide standards during trade negotiations.

According to the report, the UK currently has more stringent safety limits for the levels of pesticides allowed in foods than most countries outside of the European Union, but some trade partners attempting to secure access to the UK food market for their products have indicated that they want UK pesticide standards to be weakened. 

The report gives some examples: American grapes are allowed to contain 1,000 times the amount of the insecticide propargite (classed as a developmental or reproductive toxin) than their UK equivalents, while an Australian apple can contain 30 times the amount of the insecticide buprofezin (classed as a possible human carcinogen) than a UK apple.

Read the full report, Toxic Trade: How trade deals threaten to weaken UK pesticide standards, here. See also the Foodsource resource How are food systems and health connected and influenced?

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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