Scoring pesticides

Published: Saturday 15 November 1997

The European Union has recently agreed to fund research to evaluate methods and techniques which rank pesticides according to their environmental impact. One such system is being evaluated by the University of Hertsfordshire in the UK. The software, which will be available by early 1998, is called the pesticide eco-rating system ( Pesticide News , No 37).

Although the system does not rate and compare the environmental risks associated with one pesticide against another, and does not advise which products to use, it determines a site-specific score based on all aspects of use. All pesticides in the UK carry labels mentioning safeguards for use. The software applies a scoring system to the label warnings. Next, a score is derived for each ingredient in the formulation based on factors -- like solubility and application rate -- that reflect its potential for damage. The total score, or the eco-rating, is expressed on a scale of 0 to -100. A score of 0 indicates full compliance and no environmental impact. Scores between -70 and -100 indicate poor practices. Users should aim for a score between -40 and 0.

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