In April this year the European Union (EU) finally decided to introduce a permanent ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, following years of compelling evidence of the serious damage they cause to bee populations.
A partial ban had already been in place, but the trigger for the EU’s decision was a report from its own organisation, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa).
The Efsa report confirmed that neonicotinoid pesticides affect not only growing crops but also cause long-term contamination of soil and water. This means they appear in succession crops as well as in generations of wildflowers growing in the vicinity.
A separate global survey which reported at the end of last year found neonicotinoid pesticide traces in 75% of honey samples tested around the world. This confirms not only that these toxic chemicals have directly entered the human food chain but that they have also penetrated every aspect of honey bees’ environments.
Already organisations representing farmers, such as the UK’s National Farmers Union (NFU) have decried the EU’s decision to ban neonicotinoids, complaining that it will compromise crop protection.
Whilst we continue to farm unsustainably this is no doubt true. Monoculture has created a whole raft of unnecessary problems which pesticides and other chemicals are supposed to resolve. The real solution is to change to sustainable, organic agricultural practices. This is, of course, how we used to produce our food.
And the notion that pesticides are necessary for the production of food has been denounced by the United Nations (UN) as a “myth”, which it lays at the door of pesticides manufacturers. Those manufacturers have been accused by the UN of “systematic denial of harms” and “unethical marketing tactics”.
That, in a nutshell, is how neonicotinoid pesticide use came to be authorised in the first place.
Twenty five years on, at least the EU has now done the right thing. Will the rest of the world now follow its lead?
This recipe is quick, simple and delicious. If fresh peas are not available use organic frozen peas, but thaw them first. I used parpadelle because it just happens to be one of my favourite pastas, but do try this with the pasta of your choice.
To speed the whole process up, the pesto can be prepared whilst the pasta is cooking, meaning the whole dish can be ready in around 15 minutes.
This recipe can be easily adapted to suit a vegan preference by using egg-free pasta and a vegan Parmesan equivalent.
tagliatelle with pea, pistachio and mint pesto
60 g organic fresh peas
15 g pistachio kernels
20 g vegetarian, or vegan, Parmesan, grated
15 g (2 tbsp) fresh mint leaves
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
400 g good quality parpadelle, or pasta of you choice
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. Place the peas, pistachio kernels, Parmesan, mint leaves and extra virgin olive oil into a pestle and mortar, or use a food processor, and blend together until it takes on a lovely green colour and has a fairly smooth consistency (if using a food processor, don’t overprocess the mixture as we want it to retain some texture). Set the pesto to one side.
3. When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander then tip it back into the pan. Add the pesto and two or three spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil. Stir to combine, so that all the pasta comes in contact with some of the pesto sauce. Serve immediately, accompanied with some extra Parmesan if desired.