Pesticide checks on water 'inadequate': Independent 'crop doctors' should dispense chemicals, report says

THE MONITORING of pesticides in water is 'grossly inadequate' and radical measures are needed to curb their use so that householders do not face higher bills or higher levels of pollutants in drinking water, a new study claims.

The report published today says present regulations on pesticides are 'partial and fragmented' with the result that consumers are being asked to pay millions of pounds in water charges to remove pesticides or to accept lower standards for clean water.

Pesticides should be sold through a prescription system similar to the way drugs are dispensed by the National Health Service, according to a report by the Centre for Rural Economy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

'Crop doctors' who are independent of the pesticide industry could be licensed to dispense pesticides and offer advice to farmers on the best methods of pest control.

'Such a system would mean advice on crop protection would be divorced from the selling of pesticides,' the report says.

'The bulk of advice which farmers receive about pesticide application comes from the representatives of agrochemical suppliers. This situation may well have encourged greater use of pesticides.'

The report adds: 'Currently, as soon as an adviser is called on to a farm, non-chemical pest control strategies are almost inevitably closed off. The term 'crop protection' has been appropriated by the chemical industry, but there are a range of alternatives to 'chemical' crop protection.'

Crop doctors could also help to monitor the use of pesticides, which is carried out under a system that primarily relies on testing for the chemical pollutants once they have entered the water supply.

Neil Ward, one of the researchers who compiled the report, said: 'More attention needs to be addressed to the root causes of the problems which pesticides cause rather than clearing up afterwards.'

Consumers are paying for the removal of pesticides through higher water bills but tighter controls on the use of the chemicals might provide a cheaper solution, he said. 'This would mean the polluter would have to bear the cost. It would also address the underlying causes of the problem rather than its symptoms.'

Currently there is little scientific agreement on the dangers posed by the relatively small amounts of pesticides that seep into the water supply.

Some water companies in the United Kingdom have not been able to meet the limits set by the European Union's 1980 Drinking Water Directive with the result that the Government is pressing for these standards to be relaxed.

The Newcastle study, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, concluded that these standards should not be changed 'on the grounds that there is uncertainty over toxicity levels and merit in the precautionary principle'.

It also pointed out that most people do not want pesticides in their drinking water, even if they are told the levels are safe.

An underlying problem of pesticide control is the emphasis placed on the need to satisfy the agricultural industry, the researchers say. 'The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food exercises overall control of the regulatory system, and the interests of agriculture and agribusiness seem sometimes to be favoured at the expense of water consumers and the general water environment.'

Water Pollution from Agricultural Pesticides, Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University; pounds 10

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas