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Waitrose has become the first major retailer in the UK to sign up to the Organic Potato Pledge.

As part of the UK Robust Potato Pledge, the supermarket will stop the use of copper-based fungicides on its organic fresh potatoes to tackle late blight phytophthora.

All pledge partners will work jointly towards ensuring that all fresh organic potatoes grown in the UK are resistant, or “robust”, varieties by 2026, which removes the need to use potentially harmful copper fungicides.

“With COP26 on the horizon we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our impact on nature and biodiversity,” said JLP director of ethics and sustainability Marija Rompani.

“This pledge is a great opportunity for us to help reduce our environmental impact through innovation and we hope that through this leadership, and the leadership of our producers, the rest of the industry will follow suit.”

The commitment has been co-ordinated by the Soil Association. The group’s horticultural advisor, Hugh Blogg, said the pledge had the potential to “unite supply chains in the organic potato sector”.

“Innovative breeding programmes have had huge success at establishing varieties that are blight resistant, while still providing all the qualities that make potatoes a delicious choice for shoppers.

“The backing of key retailers to stock these products is an exciting next step in the journey towards a more resilient and sustainable potato sector.”

The move follows Waitrose’s recent decision to remove the sale of peat and potentially harmful garden chemicals from all its stores and online.

The retailer  has been opting for regenerative agriculture practices to help restore biodiversity in rural areas.

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