“The UK is becoming the toxic poster child of Europe” as it lags behind EU pesticide regulations.
New analysis by Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) reveals that UK pesticide regulations are falling behind EU standards, leading to unequal EU-UK environmental and health safeguards.
PAN UK found that 36 pesticides not allowed for use in the EU are still permitted in the UK. 30 of these have been banned in the EU since Brexit but the UK government has failed to take similar actions, and the remaining 6 have been approved for use in the UK since Brexit but not in the EU.
The chemicals under scrutiny include 12 that are classified as carcinogens, meaning they are capable of causing cancer; 9 hormone disrupting chemicals (EDCs) which may interfere with the normal functioning of the hormone system; and 8 chemicals that are toxic to development or reproduction. 13 of the chemicals are also considered to be ‘Highly Hazardous’ by the United Nations due to their toxicity to bees, aquatic organisms, or their ability to contaminate water.
PAN UK states that this example of divergence from EU protections can be attributed in large part to the UK Government’s decision to automatically provide a 3 year extension to the licenses of pesticides that were due to expire by December 2023. They report that this decision came as a result of lack of government capacity, which CHEM Trust had previously identified as an area of concern that may impact the UK’s ability to ensure adequate protections from harmful chemicals.
This failure to act to protect human health and nature from harmful chemicals has come despite the UK government’s repeated verbal commitments not to weaken environmental protections following their exit from the EU. However, the list of areas of divergence continues to grow.
Nick Mole, Policy Officer at PAN UK said “the UK is becoming the toxic poster child of Europe” and warns that we are exposing British wildlife to an increasingly “toxic soup of chemicals”.
CHEM Trust is calling for the UK to align with the EU on laws that safeguard the environment and human health from harmful chemicals found in everyday products. This is to ensure equal EU-UK protections for people and nature, which you can read more about in our blog.
For more information about how to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, including hazardous pesticides, see our reduce your risk website pages.