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Rosemary Waterhouse 2013

Why we use pesticides

Pesticides are used to ensure a plentiful supply of food is produced by farmers at a reasonable price all year round.  Pesticides also mean our food is safe and nutritious and free from blemishes or marks.

Farmers use pesticides to protect crops from insect pests, weeds and fungal disease while they are growing and prevent rats, mice, flies and other insects from contaminating stored foods. The term pesticide includes herbicides, fungicides,  insecticides and molluscicides.


Pesticide approval process

The European Commission is responsible for the approval of active substances for use in pesticides in European Union Member States. Approval is only given after a rigorous lengthy assessment and scrutiny process which involves the European Food Safety Authority, Member States and scientific experts.

When an active substance is approved in Europe, companies can apply to the regulatory authority within each Member State, which in the UK is the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) of the Health and Safety Executive, for permission to place their product on the market.

The CRD maintains a number of databases on pesticide products for use in the UK, including information on current professional and amateur products.

Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products in Scotland

The Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products in Scotland reflects the Scottish Government’s policy to reduce to the lowest possible level the effect of pesticide use on people, wildlife, plants and the environment while making sure pests, diseases, and weeds are effectively controlled.  The Code is due to be updated to take account of new pesticide legislation.


Cross Compliance

As a condition of receiving support payments land managers have to comply with a range of requirements known as cross compliance. The correct use of pesticides is part of cross compliance and breaches of the requirements could result in payments being reduced. For more information and advice please visit the cross compliance guidance section of the website.


Scotland’s Pesticide Survey Unit

Information on the use of pesticides in Scotland is collected and published annually by the Pesticide Survey Unit at SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture).

The most recent survey results can be found here.


Pesticides and the Water Environment

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities)(Scotland) Regulations (CAR) place controls on the storage of pesticides and their use in the proximity of the water environment. Full guidance on the rules within CAR can be found under “Know the Rules” at: Guidance on Pesticide Use, Purchase, Storage and the Water Environment.


Restrictions on the use of Neonicotinoids

Restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid insecticide products containing clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, widely used to control a range of insect pests, came into force on 1 December 2013.

Full details of the restrictions can be found at European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 485/2013 with specific implications for growers of oilseed rape and cereal crops found at Home Grown Cereals Authority - Neonicotinoid Restrictions