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Phil, a bit more concern for our biosphere and less energy spent on what comes over as yet another thinly disguised anti-EU rant would be time well spent.

This isn't just about the mounting damage from pesticide use, it's about loss of habitat as well. It's been known for a long time that urban gardens are more rich in biodiversity than the lifeless monocultures that surround towns and cities the world over. The structures referred to in the rather flimsy Times piece do actually work, but I think it's worth pointing out these are nesting sites for wild solitary bees rather than honey bees farmed in hives (both are crucial crop pollinators).

If habitat loss is driving wild bees into cities, the least we can do is provide somewhere for them to reproduce. If we are prepared to demand ever cheaper food which can only be produced from biodiversity-dead factory fields in order to keep the cost down, then we shouldn't baulk at the idea of forking out some cash for the consequences of that - in this case providing a refuge for species driven out by unsustainable farming practices.

Your idea of pesticide-free zones is nothing new; organic farmers and growers (as well as gardeners) know, from many years of experience, that a more holistic and integrated approach to growing food, where nature isn't constantly pummeled into submission, but is a valued partner in the process, actually works. In this case the whole farm or holding is a 'pesticide-free zone' - they don't just pay lip service to the idea with a few unsprayed strips here and there.

The pesticide chickens are finally coming home to roost and unfortunately bees of all denominations are in the firing line. 'Pesticide-free zones' is a convincing soundbite but it overlooks one important thing: the wind. One of the first lessons I ever learnt about pesticides is that if you can smell them, they're there.

Didn't you get a whiff of something nasty not long ago: "I could smell and taste the chemical as it was carried three quarters of a mile on the wind..." (Landscape Juice, 27th April 2010).

Hi John

Thanks for your comment.

I'm not sure why you don't think I have a concern for the 'biosphere'?....you've been reading LJ long enough to know that our world is important to me.

I'm surprised about your overspray comment - sure chemicals travel on the wind but they will disperse the further you get from their source. Surely even you can see that if you had a 1, 10, 50 mile no-go zone, there will at least be some protection for wildlife and insects and more so the closer one gets to the centre of the zone?

I've not claimed the idea as new either...just my view on it being a much more sensible solution to spending £2m on creating something that school children can do as a homework project.

BTW...I'm not against the EC - just anti anything that's stupid :)

There are many more dangerous chemicals under peoples sinks in towns and cities - what makes you think that just because a town has banned chemicals that the air is clean and just think about what you've said about wind dispersal... if spray can travel on the wind deeper into the countryside, it is surely just as capable of contaminating towns and cities too.

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