Twenty-four environmental and veterinary organisations – including Buglife, The Progressive Veterinary Association, Veterinary Poisons Information Service, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts – have written an open letter calling on the UK Government to ban five toxic pesticides from being included in medicines for cats and dogs.
The new analysis of Environment Agency data shows that three of the five insecticides – fipronil, permethrin and the controversial neonicotinoid imidacloprid – are present in English rivers in concentrations that exceed accepted safe limits for wildlife. The remaining two chemicals – dinotefuran and nitenpyram (both neonicotinoids) – are not present in Environment Agency testing data.
Read the full letter below (also sent directly to Thérèse Coffey and Richard Benyon at Defra and Abigail Seager, CEO of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate):
Preventing pesticides in veterinary medicines for dogs and cats from damaging the environment
An open letter to the UK Government
Pesticides used in veterinary medicines for dogs and cats are leaching into the natural environment. A single dose on a large dog of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid – commonly found in tick and flea treatments – is enough to kill millions of honeybees. Environment Agency data shows that pesticides used in veterinary medicines are present in many of England’s rivers in concentrations that exceed accepted safe limits, posing a high risk to aquatic ecosystems.
Significant contributors to this environmental contamination are five pesticide active substances that are not allowed to be used on agricultural crops due to their impact on human health and/or the environment.
The five chemicals are detailed in the table below. They include:
- all five are highly toxic to bees (including a recently banned and controversial neonicotinoid)
- two that contaminate groundwater
- two that have links to cancer
- two suspected endocrine disrupters
Yet, despite the fact that alternatives are available, these chemicals continue to be used widely in medicines for dogs and cats, often prophylactically and without prescription. This is undermining efforts to reduce chemical pollution in the environment which, studies have shown, threatens the stability of global ecosystems.
We the undersigned call on the UK Government to:
- Ban all pesticide active substances that are not permitted for use on agricultural crops from being included in veterinary medicines for dogs and cats.
- Close the current loophole to ensure that any pesticide active substance deemed to be too harmful to be used on crops in the future is automatically banned from appearing in veterinary medicines.
What are the five active substances that we are calling for to be banned from use in medicines for dogs and cats?
|Active Substance (All insecticides)||Approved in UK for use on agricultural crops?||Environmental impacts||Human health impacts||Used in which type of veterinary medicines and on which animals?||No. of parasiticide products for cats and dogs containing active substance|
|Dinotefuran (neonicotinoid)||Never approved||Ectoparaciticide Dogs, cats||12|
|Fipronil||No products ever approved||Ectoparaciticide and endectocide Dogs, cats||483|
|Imidacloprid (neonicotinoid)||Banned in 2018||Ectoparaciticide and endectocide Dogs, cats||176|
|Nitenpyram (neonicotinoid)||Never approved||Ectoparaciticide Dogs, cats||9|
|Permethrin||Banned in 2022||Ectoparaciticide Dogs, cats||90|
Find out more about pets and their exposure to pesticides in the PAN UK report.
Find out more about the problem with pesticides in veterinary medicines.
Please let PAN UK know if you think your pet has been poisoned by pesticides so that they can monitor the national picture and continue to build the case for change. Their pet poisoning reporting form is available here.