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UK pesticides policy - a policy paradigm in transition?

Buffin, D. G. (2009). UK pesticides policy - a policy paradigm in transition?. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This research has established that a dominant 'pesticide policy paradigm' emerged in the UK in the mid 20th century which is now challenged and under pressure. The research proposes that another 'ecological pest management paradigm' appears to be emerging, but its development is held back by under-investment and powerful commitments to the current pesticide policy paradigm.

In the main, pesticides are researched and studied within the confines of natural science. The cross disciplinary nature of the present research has involved a wider analysis of pesticide policy from a scientific, social and political perspective. Pesticide policy and practice has been analysed using existing research data, grey literature and semi-structured interviews with 47 senior pesticide policy stakeholders from across the food and agrichemical sectors. The interviews were conducted to test the theoretical framework proposed.

After the Second World War significant crop yield increases were achieved, partly through the intensive use of synthetic pesticides, as an established part of conventional agriculture. Although successful at controlling pests, synthetic pesticides have also had unintended side effects on human health and the environment, which are reviewed. In response to rising evidence of harm, critical stakeholders have asserted the primacy of protecting human health and the environment.

The research identified 'productive stakeholders' who are locked into the technology, and 'critical stakeholders' with fundamental concerns about the need for pesticides, who champion a more precautionary approach. The interviews suggest 'societal failure' for pesticides, which is not dispelled by government and productive stakeholder assurances.

Biologically based alternatives are emerging as one response to the unintentional side effects of synthetic pesticides. However these bio-pesticide products are considered under the same regulatory requirements as synthetic pesticides. Thus, the high cost of regulatory development is impeding their development, and though widely considered safer than synthetic pesticides, this is currently difficult to prove. Bio-pesticides are thus subsumed in the same paradigm as synthetic pesticides; where as they could be seen as part of a more sustainable and holistic ecological pest management paradigm.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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Text (Volume 1) - Accepted Version
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Text (Volume 2) - Accepted Version
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