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Aldi UK’s decision to review its pesticide policy, including the use of neonicotinoids, has been warmly welcomed by Friends of the Earth. The review is due to be completed later this year.
In a letter to Friends of the Earth, Aldi UK says: “The aim of this review is to establish an ALDI UK position on pesticide usage, including the use of neonicotinoids, that will take our approach beyond the current status quo, particularly in relation to pollinators.”
The move by Aldi UK follows campaigning by Friends of the Earth for the supermarket to set out its position after its German parent company, Aldi Sud, banned suppliers from using eight pesticides (including three bee-harming neonicotinoids) from fruits and vegetables produced for its German market earlier this year. Aldi UK is operationally independent from Aldi Sud.
Two years ago the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides were partially restricted across Europe after being found by scientists to pose a “high acute risk” to honey bees. Since then the scientific evidence showing the threat to all bee species from neonicotinoids has grown stronger. However, their use is still allowed on some crops such as wheat and in greenhouses.
Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Dave Timms said:
“Aldi UK’s pesticide review and pledge to do more to help bees and other pollinators is a welcome move.
“The scientific evidence of the unacceptable risk neonicotinoid pesticides pose to our wildlife is growing – they should be replaced by effective bee-friendly farming methods.
“Supermarkets and other retailers must take more responsibility for the impact their activities have on our planet.”
Friends of the Earth says Aldi UK’s new policy should include keeping all neonicotinoid pesticides out of the production of its fruit, vegetables and cereals - including wheat and oilseed rape.
France acts on neonicotinoid pesticides
Last week France's National Assembly moved closer to passing measures that go further than current EU restrictions on neonicotinoids by approving plans for a total ban on these chemicals.
In contrast, the UK government allowed farmers in some parts of England to use oilseed rape seeds treated with two of the ‘restricted’ neonicotinoid pesticides last autumn. However, government figures show the average oil seed rape yield rose by nearly seven per cent in the first harvest since neonicotinoid restrictions were introduced.
Notes to editors:
1. Aldi UK statement issued to Friends of the Earth is below.
2. Friends of the Earth has been campaigning since February for Aldi UK to act on pesticides.
3. Aldi Süd bans bee-harming pesticides.
4. France moves toward full ban on pesticides blamed for harming bees: http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-france-pesticides-idUKKCN0WK1KL
5 The current EU restrictions cover the neonicotinoid pesticides Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam. Two others, Thiacloprid and Acetamiprid, are licensed for use in the EU and not covered by the restrictions, and are widely used (for example on apples). Governments can also allow temporary exemptions to the restrictions, as the UK did last autumn.
6. The average UK oil seed rape yield rose by nearly seven per cent in the first harvest since neonicotinoid restrictions were introduced.
Aldi UK statement sent to Friends of the Earth:
“Firstly, to clarify the business relationship between ALDI South Germany and ALDI UK, ALDI UK operates as an entirely independent financial entity from ALDI South Germany and these two business units, whilst part of the overall ALDI South Group, operate with complete autonomy from one another.
As such, the recent decision made by ALDI South Germany to ban the use of eight substances (chlorpyrifos, clothianidin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, fipronil, imidacloprid, sulfoxaflor, and thiamethoxam) in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and potatoes applies specifically to suppliers of ALDI South Germany, and not to suppliers supplying ALDI UK.
In terms of our UK approach, we are currently in the process of reviewing our ALDI UK pesticide policy. The aim of this review is to establish an ALDI UK position on pesticide usage, including the use of neonicotinoids, that will take our approach beyond the current status quo, particularly in relation to pollinators.
Our review will adopt the form of wider stakeholder consultation and research, taking into consideration the views and scientific evidence from academics, NGOs, government, industry bodies, independent technical providers and, importantly, our suppliers and growers. This will be used to inform our position and associated timelines for implementation.
We would be keen to obtain further information from Friends of the Earth on your position regarding pesticide usage, in particular any scientific evidence you are able to provide, in order to incorporate these views into our overall approach.
We look forward to maintaining dialogue with you and working together to ensure our future approach supports our suppliers to ensure our products are grown in consideration for the environment.”