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Insecticides And Fungicides

Volume 466: debated on Thursday 7 July 1949

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asked the Lord President of the Council if he is aware of the large number of commercial insecticides and fungicides, containing dangerous poisons, now offered for sale to fruit-growers and smallholders; and what steps are taken by his Department, in conjunction with the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, to test fully and over a considerable period of time the effects of these products on plants and on human beings.

The Agricultural Research Council and the Medical Research Council are aware of the potential dangers of the indiscriminate use of some of the new insecticides and fungicides, and there is a special Toxicity Sub-Committee of the Research Co-ordinating Committee on Insecticides, a body appointed jointly by the Medical Research Council, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Agricultural Research Council, which arranges for the examination of new materials. As to the effect of insecticides and fungicides on plants, active and continuing research is in progress at several Agricultural Research Institutes. In regard to the effect on human beings, the Agricultural Research Council works in close collaboration with the Toxicology Committee of the Medical Research Council. The inquiries of that Committee include long term studies.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in at least one recent case a woman died through eating strawberries which had been picked too soon after spraying with one of these poisonous preparations, and, apart from this immediate danger, is he satisfied that there is really sufficient research going on into the long-term effects on the soil and on life generally?

I can assure my hon. Friend that this is a matter which is being dealt with pretty thoroughly. I do not know how recent is the case to which he refers, but if he will let me have particulars I will see that it is considered.