A new petition is calling to ban all pesticides from the UK urban areas to protect bees, wildlife and human health.
If cities ban the spraying of pesticides from parks, gardens and road verges, it could significantly slow insect decline.
France has already banned pesticides in similar areas, whilst 170 cities and towns in Canada have banned them.
“The use of pesticides in farming is the subject of big debate. You can make a pretty strong argument that we probably do need pesticides if we’re going to feed everybody. But we don’t need them in our gardens. There’s no economic case for that at all,” said Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex.
“If we link up private gardens with flower-filled road verges and roundabouts, city parks, cemeteries and so on, that’s potentially a network of insect-friendly habitats. It would be a huge step in the right direction.”
Groups including Greenpeace, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Soil Association are supporting the campaign.
“Most people are fed up with seeing councils spraying our streets and parks with chemicals exposing their workers, the public and wildlife to what are really poisons. We should look to manage our open spaces and gardens without resort to using pesticides,” said Gareth Morgan, the Soil Association’s head of farming and land use.
“Just as farmers have had to respond to the ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids then similar phase-outs for pesticides should be introduced so the public and local authorities can start to adopt sustainable and safe alternatives in our towns and cities,” he added.