Monday, June 23, 2008

Common sense?

Or politically correct madness? I'll leave that up to you, the reader, to decide.

This from the Telegraph highlights a study undertaken by a group of scientists on what may happen if the EU follows through with proposals to ban a number of commonly used herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

I actually worked on a project directly related to biocides and the amount of time and effort taken up in chemical risk and hazard assessment was simply extraordinary. Plus, as far as I was aware, ALL chemicals used in biocides known to pose ANY sort of toxicity threat were withdrawn from use during the 1970's & 1980's.

"A ban on chemical products used to control disease, pests and weeds would create food shortages, lead to soaring prices and increase Britain's dependence on imports."

"The yields of staples foods such wheat, potatoes and green vegetables would all be severely hit if the majority of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, all of which have been certified as safe and which are commonly used by farmers - are banned."

OK, so reducing the number and amount of chemicals used in agriculture does seem, at first glance, to be a pretty sensible idea. But, and this is the big question, at a time when basic food prices are going through the roof, and we probably need to actually increase yields, a blanket ban that might actually reduce crop yields by between 25% to 50% seems to me to be rather questionable.

Having some friends who have just come back from holiday in Spain and who have pointed out that over there, individual bar owners can decide whether their premises are smoking or no smoking, what's the betting that the UK would be yet again the only member of the EU to take any notice of a ban on the use of biocides anyway?

1 comment:

Peter said...

I am minded of the historical story regarding DDT.

On the one hand, pretty nasty stuff.

On the other, withdrawing its use in certain circumstances seems to have resulted in more deaths than its banning spared.

Another unappealing, and unfortunate example of 'lesser of various evils' that we face in an already un-natural world facing very real demands to deliver in excess of capacity.

Shame the current evidence is that leaderships do not seem to take tough decisions in such matters, much less informed ones... or at least informed by more than pressure groups or media headlines.