Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Waitrose collaborates with Hertfordshire researchers to reduce theimpact of pesticides

Image courtesy of Apolonia 
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire’s Agriculture and Environment Research Unit (AERU) are working with Waitrose Foods to develop a “pesticide load indicator”.

Pesticides are widely used to protect plants from pests such as weeds, diseases or insects  - to ensure a good crop yield whether in your home vegetable garden or in agricultural food production.

A pesticide can be chemically or biologically based and, although there are benefits to their use, there are also some drawbacks such as potential toxicity to humans and animals.  Everyone who uses pesticides has the responsibility to ensure that they use them correctly and effectively to minimise the risk they pose to people and the environment.  But small amounts may turn up in food supplies – and they may also turn up in the environment and drinking water.
Image courtesy of 
David Castillo Dominici at 

Waitrose has a policy of reducing the impact of pesticides used in its fresh produce.  Their fresh produce growers across the world need to be able to assess the risk of pesticide applications on human health, biodiversity and the wide environment. But an independent indicator of the risks of pesticide usage is not readily available - so, Waitrose sought the expertise of researchers at AERU led by Dr Kathy Lewis.

The collaboration with AERU will enable Waitrose to inform and improve on its policy to encourage the use of safer and more sustainable crop protection chemicals.  The pesticide load indicator will be used to evaluate crop protection plans from Waitrose suppliers all round the world.  It will give information to enable a more rational decision process for pesticide selection – therefore reducing the impact on biodiversity and the wider environment.

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