Waitrose plans to boost bees and butterflies with pesticide ban

15 April 2013

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15 April 2013 | Anna Reynolds

Waitrose has asked its suppliers to stop using particular pesticides on fruit, vegetables and flowers by the end of 2014, after concerns about the impact on bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Under a ‘Seven Point Plan for Pollinators’, UK farmers supplying Waitrose are to stop using three formulations of neonicotinoids - imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam – as a precautionary measure, until scientists can demonstrate whether or not they are harmful to pollinator insects such as bees and butterflies.

The seven points are:

1.    Supporting the EU’s review into the use of the three neonicotinoids

2.    Avoiding the use of these neonicotinoids in fruit, vegetable and flower supply chains

3.    Supporting further research into pollinators

4.    Ensuring that all fresh produce farms monitor and develop bee/pollinator activity

5.    Strengthening control frameworks for commodity crop ingredients (wheat and oil seed rape) and adopting the Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) standard

6.    Engaging with customers and Waitrose partners to gather observations on pollinators

7.    Investing in the development of organic farming

The plan will be rolled out to commodity crops, starting with oil seed rape on the Waitrose farm at Leckford in Hampshire. Waitrose also announced it will fund a research project at the University of Exeter into the effects on pollinators of pesticide use. The results of the three-year programme will be used to develop alternative methods of pest control.

David Croft, director of quality and technical at Waitrose, said: “The role of pollinating insects such as bees is crucial in sustaining agriculture in the long term, as part of a thriving ecosystem that will support food security, healthy diets and the wider agricultural economy.

“The current debate on the decline of pollinators has raised attention about the potential adverse impact of neonicotinoid pesticides. With this in mind, and in favour of strengthening pollinator presence, Waitrose is supporting a precautionary approach with these chemicals.”

Mark Price, managing director at Waitrose, added: “This is part of a programme of action to understand better the effect that commercial farming has on pollinators and to help our farmers develop cost-effective alternative methods of pest control on their crops.”

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