pesticide organic

Overall pesticide usage is declining but campaigners are still concerned about the use of harming chemicals

The amount of pesticides used in UK farming is declining, new government data has shown.

According to the pesticide usage survey, between 2016 and 2020, both the overall weight of pesticides and the area of land treated fell by around 25%.

The news comes despite warnings from the Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK) that the amount of glyphosate – which it claims is harmful to humans – used in UK agriculture is on the rise.

Use of glyphosate increased by 16% between 2016 and 2020, government data showed.

The pressure group cited a number of court cases in the US, which have resulted in glyphosate’s manufacturers paying out billions in compensation to cancer sufferers, as evidence of its risk to human health.

“The negative impacts of glyphosate on human health and the environment are well documented,” said PAN UK policy officer Nick Mole.

“With cancer rates and biodiversity loss both rising, it’s crazy that we continue to endanger the health of rural residents, farmworkers and wildlife when there are plenty of safer and more sustainable alternatives available.”

A Defra spokeswoman said the approval of glyphosate, as with all pesticides, was subject to regular review and that the government continued to ”keep an active watch on the scientific evidence on glyphosate”.

“We supported its approval at the last review because it met our high standards for the protection of health and environment, drawing on advice from experts in the HSE and the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides.

“That is why strict regulation only permits their sale and use where scientific assessment shows they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment.

“We want to protect people and the environment from the risks pesticides can pose.”