Blogging from BCPC/IPPC 2007 – Call for Agrochem Education

Day Three of the BCPC Congress here in Glasgow and everything is in full swing. There’s a full programme of seminars, meetings and posters, alongside a buzzing exhibition hall. The quality of freebie giveaways is pretty low, but can whoever is giving out the squeezy brain stress toys please make themselves known? The CABI stand has seen fantastic traffic, drawn in by the chance to win a free copy of the 2008 UK Pesticide Guide, no doubt.

One of the highlights for me so far came in the Opening Address speeches – a thought provoking half hour from Hampshire, UK farmer Sam Browne. His talk "Farming at the sharp end with a blunt instrument" made an interesting point about pesticide usage in modern farming: pesticides are considered by some (and yes, there is widespread opposition) to be the only reliable way to grow crops with sufficient calorific content to meet rising worldwide demand; pesticide companies make a wide variety of effective crop protection products that farmers can use safely; using these products can so easily make a farmer’s produce poisonous and dangerous in the eyes of the public. Chemical pesticides are all Evil Chemicals, the name carries an, automatic connotation of toxicity, danger and indiscriminate death-dealing, regardless of whether safety studies have been adequately carried out. Mr Browne called for a portion of the agrochemical sector’s profits to be spent on education, explaining to the public if and how safe pesticide usage can be achieved, and informing people everywhere to counter scaremongering.

It remains to be seen whether his pleas will be heard, but considering the size of this meeting and the number of agrochemical companies represented here, he probably picked the right place to have his say. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I may have spotted someone to ask about those brains…

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