by Rob Edwards and Nash Riggins
The latest survey for the Scottish government reveals that the amount of all pesticides applied per hectare by soft fruit growers, centred in Angus, leapt by 38% between 2010 and 2012.
Much of the increase was in fungicides to try and prevent rot in wet weather. But there was also a 36% jump in the use of chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide that can damage the nervous system and kill wildlife.
The increases were described as “alarming” by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, while the Soil Association, which certifies organic food, warned of potential risks to health. The pesticides industry, however, accused them of trying to “scare” people.
Over 1,500 hectares of Scotland were planted with strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries and other soft fruits in 2012, more than four-fifths of them in Angus. As much as 96% of the entire crop was treated with at least one pesticide, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and biological control agents.