A ‘Pesticide Free Essex’ campaign has launched this week to raise awareness about the dangers of pesticides used on our streets and roads. The campaign aims to provide support to councils across Essex, including Essex County Council and to the public in finding safer and more environmentally friendly solutions to ‘weeds’.
Essex based community groups including Eco Colchester and Eco Essex, charity ‘En-form’ as well as the Green Action Team for the Colchester & District Green Party and South-East Essex Organic Gardeners, have joined forces to create an important campaign to help support and encourage Parish, Town and Borough Councils across Essex and Essex County Council to ban pesticides and move towards a policy which supports biodiversity and doesn’t harm humans or nature.
The campaign group is working closely with ‘Pesticide Action Network’ PAN UK, a UK charity focused solely on tackling the problems caused by pesticides and promoting safe and sustainable alternatives.
The campaign aims include:
– Raise awareness of the risks of pesticides (namely the weedkiller glyphosate).
– Raise awareness of the importance of ‘wildflowers’ across rural and urban spaces
– Encourage and support councils across Essex and Essex County Council to become pesticide free
– Encourage schools, private land-owners, garden centres, supermarkets, hospitals and homeowners) to become pesticide-free
Glyphosate is the main ingredient in most ‘weed’ control products including popular brand ‘Round-Up’. It is used to control weeds in public spaces – from schools and hospitals to parks, streets and private gardens.
Glyphosates are harmful to humans, animals (including pets) and biodiversity. Research suggests that the weed killer has been linked to cancer, heart disease, autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, birth defects and Parkinson’s. Three landmark cases in the US have seen huge settlements given for glyphosate-caused cancer.
Across EU states, several have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, bans of the herbicide. Colchester Borough Council agreed to end the use of glyphosate-based products for general maintenance of ‘weeds’, by March 2021 thanks to lobbying by the Colchester Green Party and community group Eco Colchester. (https://www.colchester.gov.uk/info/cbc-article/?catid=latest-news&id=KA-03373)
The campaign group has gained cross-party support in Colchester and is working positively with Essex County Council who are already investigating safer alternatives. The key to a successful rollover is public support and as a campaign group we want to help to support the council and the public in this transition.
Grace Darke, project manager for en-form and coordinator for Eco Colchester said ‘It’s vital that we work collaboratively with councils and the public to create a positive impact for environmental and human health. The issue with anything toxic to the environment is that it will inevitably be toxic to other living organisms too, including humans; we aren’t separate from our environment as we are built of the same living cells as any other animal. To give you a sense of just how easy it is to affect us too, imagine you’ve sprayed weedkiller onto the road, path or garden, it can take approximately 6 months (potentially longer) to break down in the environment, at some point you walk this chemical into your home, or your dog walks on it and later licks his paws. We are seeing huge health issues across the world as a result of pesticide use and so much of its use in our towns is simply for appearance which makes no sense as we are putting aesthetics above our health’.
Pesticide Free Essex is asking individuals, councils and businesses to pledge to go pesticide-free, and to help us with raising awareness wherever you can. Full details on the campaign and resources are available from https://en-form.org.uk/pesticide-free-essex/
Reducing pesticide use is simple yet has an enormous and immediate impact on the environment. We can provide assistance and support for individuals or groups who wish to set up a local campaign and for councils in their transition to going pesticide-free. The key to its success is working positively and collaboratively to support our shared environment.