Waitrose and M&S do most to fight pesticides

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High-end supermarkets are doing more to tackle and reduce the use of pesticides in their supply chains than low-cost chains, according to a new report.

Waitrose and M&S topped the rankings of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK), which assesses 10 supermarkets according to eight criteria related to pesticides, including the support they provide to their suppliers to use non-chemical alternatives.

Co-op and Sainsbury’s came close behind, followed by Morrisons, Tesco and Asda, while discounters Lidl, Aldi and Iceland were at the bottom of the list.

“Although our ranking shows that some supermarkets are doing much better than others, we found that they could all do more to phase out the most dangerous pesticides,” said Josie Cohen of PAN UK.

“Although some of these chemicals are still used in the UK, many have been banned due to their impact on human health and the environment. But they are still permitted in many other countries where our food is grown, and where they regularly poison workers and wildlife and contaminate the natural environment. “

PAN UK also assessed the transparency of what supermarkets are doing to tackle pesticides, as well as the presence of chemicals banned in the UK but still used abroad, such as neonicotinoids, which are banned in Europe in due to their toxicity to bees, but still used elsewhere and therefore present in imported foods.

M&S and Co-op have been recognized as the only two supermarkets to publish information on food residue testing, which all supermarkets perform to verify pesticide levels do not exceed legal limits.

Customers at the other eight supermarkets have no way of knowing which specific food products have the most residue, preventing them from making purchasing decisions to avoid pesticides in their food (other than choosing organic products). ), said PAN UK.

Six of the top ten supermarkets (Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco) continue to sell high-risk pesticide products (such as weed killers), while Co-op and Waitrose have both said they will stop selling. sell pesticides in 2021.

In addition to those that are toxic to wildlife and insects, the list also monitors the use of highly hazardous pesticides, which include pesticides that are extremely toxic and can cause serious harm to farmers and workers after a single exposure, and has found that they are present. in the ten supermarket supply chains.

It also includes pesticides that have been linked to a range of chronic diseases, including cancer, birth defects and developmental disorders.

“If we are to have any chance of reversing the current biodiversity and public health crises, then all supermarkets must step up their efforts and do more to prevent damage from pesticides,” Cohen added.

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