Coppice Road Allotments Association

(affiliated to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd)

© C.R.A.A. 2008-17

Website created using WebPlus by  Serif

12 May, 2018

This page last refreshed

Contact us by E-mail at:

The term ‘pesticide’ covers a range of materials for differing uses and includes insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, molluscicides and biological agents and organisms used as pesticides.

The use of pesticides of all forms is subject to regulation by The European Commission by means of ‘Directives’ and by the British Parliament under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Pesticide Regulations arising from this act. In the UK this is done under the auspices of the Chemicals Safety Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive. There are two categories; pesticides that may only be used by professional growers and public bodies, and secondly, those pesticides for use by the amateur home gardener, including allotment gardeners.

It is illegal to use any material or biological agent as a pesticide that is not approved by these governmental bodies. It is also illegal to use approved materials in a way that is not in accordance with the directions specified by the producer, manufacturer or relevant government body. It is also illegal for an amateur gardener to use professional category pesticides.

Many gardeners have embraced the principles of the ‘Organic’ gardening movement’ and some mistakenly believe that ‘going organic’ means that no pesticides may be used. In fact there are a number of pesticides that are approved for ‘organic’ use by the Soil Association and Grow Organic. These two bodies are private non-governmental campaigning organisations who, though they have gained some influence in the gardening community, have no legal jurisdiction over the use of pesticides..The Soil Association has however had the licensing of commercial organic growers and farmers devolved to it. This means that all producers of commercial food raised in the UK that is labelled ‘Organic’ must be licensed by the Soil Association and have been produced under the guidelines laid down by that organisation. The Soil Association has a for-profit commercial offshoot which charges producers fees for certification and licensing, together with further charges for inspections and audits. Only then are producers able to display the Soil Association approved logo on their foodstuffs. The Soil Association also carries out some limited licensing and inspections of overseas producers, where the country has no similar organisation, but by no means can all overseas food that claims to be ‘organic’ be absolutely guaranteed to have conformed to the same production criteria as Soil Association approved foodstuffs.

There are no similar licensing restrictions governing ‘organic growing’ applicable to amateur growers, and whether they adhere to the guidelines for growing ‘organically’, or prefer conventional growing methods, is a matter of personal choice. However, both ‘organic’ and conventional growers must adhere to the law when using pesticides, even for those approved for ‘organic’ usage.

Pesticides are subject to strict safety testing, not only for potential hazards to humans and animals, but also for their potential impact on the wider environment. This testing can take many years and cost the manufacturer millions of pounds. In fact, pesticide testing is akin to the testing and trials that are carried out upon pharmaceutical drugs and medicines. Unless the manufacturer can be guaranteed sufficient sales and profit to produce a pesticide to offset the cost of the required testing they are unlikely to proceed with its manufacture. Pesticides that existed before the stricter testing requirements were introduced have to undergo the same safety testing on those pesticides retrospectively. In many cases the sales of the product did not warrant the cost of this retrospective testing and were voluntarily withdrawn from manufacture, even though they had been used safely and without harm for many decades. Many pesticides have been withdrawn for these purely commercial reasons rather than for an identified safety or environmental hazard. Sometimes, the withdrawn pesticide leaves a gap in the growers armoury against a particular pest, and sometimes a newer more effective (and profitable), pesticide may be introduced to take its place.. This is a continuous process and the list of approved pesticides is regularly updated.

When a pesticide that presents no safety hazard is withdrawn voluntarily for purely commercial reasons, consideration for the product already in the market is taken into account, and although manufacture may have ceased, a ‘use-by’ date is specified whereby it is still legal to use-up existing stocks. Any stocks existing after this date may not be used and have to be disposed of safely. In the case of pesticides for amateur use this is usually through the local authority and registered local disposal sites may be found for your locality by reference to this website

Pesticides Usage - the rules