Posts Tagged ‘pesticides’

Are pesticides sprayed near you?

21 December, 2010

‘Disgraceful’ decision on spray rules – campaigner
Georgina Downs, of the UK Pesticides Campaign, said it was a disgrace that the government has decided there was no need to introduce any new measures to protect the health of rural residents from pesticide exposure.

The award-winning environmental campaigner waged a 10-year pesticide safety campaign, and won against the UK government in High Court – only for the government to return to court to overturn the legal decision. Georgina pledged to continue her crusade – even though the government has rejected the introduction of mandatory measures to protect rural residents living near sprayed fields.

Farmers Weekly (16 Dec)
Farmers Guardian (15 Dec)


Another pesticide link to bad health

20 August, 2010

Pesticide exposure linked to attention disorders
Researchers have found that children whose mothers were exposed to organophosphate pesticides while pregnant were more likely to have attention problems as they grew up. The pesticides are used on fruit on vegetables. “It’s known that food is a significant source of pesticide exposure among the general population” said Professor Brenda Eskenazi, co-author of the research. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, adds to evidence that some pesticides can affect the human brain.
The Daily Telegraph (20 August, p.14)

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Pesticide bystander fight taken to Europe

19 January, 2010

Georgina Downs has decided to fight the UK government in the European courts, after Defra appealed against a landmark High Court decision in November 2008 which ruled they had acted without due regard. The Judge, Mr Justice Collins, described the Government’s rules to protect bystanders from pesticides as ‘unlawful’.

He said Ms Downs had provided ‘solid evidence that residents have suffered harm to their health’ from pesticides and ruled Defra ‘must take steps to produce an adequate assessment of the risks to residents’.

However, Defra lodged an appeal in July 2009 and the ruling was overturned in the Court of Appeal.

Farmers Weekly (14 Jan)
Farmers Guardian (12 Jan)
The Guardian (11 Jan)

Polluted people

28 July, 2009

The pollution of your body started early in life.

Success at high court for Georgina Downs

15 November, 2008


Environmental campaigner Georgina Downs won an amazing legal victory yesterday to great acclaim. Mr Justice Collins, the High Court judge ruled that Ms Downs had produced “solid evidence” that residents had suffered harm. He said the government had failed to comply with a European directive to protect rural residents.

Throughout her 7 year campaign ( Ms. Downs has continued to present considerable evidence to the Government, its regulators, (the Pesticides Safety Directorate) and main advisors, (the Advisory Committee on Pesticides) regarding the lack of any protection for residents from pesticides.

Georgina’s relentless work exposed the Government’s “inherent fundamental failure” to protect rural residents and communities from exposure to toxic pesticides sprayed near homes, schools, children playgrounds and other premises.


The High Court Judgment from Mr. Justice Collins is very clear in that the Government has been acting unlawfully in its policy and approach in relation to the use of pesticides in crop spraying, and that public health, in particular rural residents and communities exposed to pesticides from living in the locality to regularly sprayed fields, is not being protected (and this applies to both acute effects and chronic long term adverse health effects).

The Judgment states, “The alleged inadequacies of the model and the approach to authorisation and conditions of use have been scientifically justified. The claimant has produced cogent arguments and evidence to indicate that the approach does not adequately protect residents and so is in breach of the Directive.”

The Judgment also states, “It is important to bear in mind that operators and workers are not the only individuals who are exposed to pesticides and, while their protection is of course most important, they can benefit from the use of protective clothing and other measures not available to residents. Some individuals may be particularly vulnerable (for example, the asthmatic, the elderly, children, pregnant women), but they must be protected too.”


Georgina Downs, speaking outside the High Court said, “I am obviously very pleased with today’s result, and have been fully vindicated, as this case was based on a set of core arguments that I identified and have been presenting to the Government over the last 7 years. The fact that there has never been any assessment of the risks to health for the long-term exposure for those who live, work or go to school near pesticide sprayed fields is an absolute scandal considering that crop-spraying has been a predominant feature of agriculture for over 50 years. Under EU and UK law the absence of any risk assessment means that pesticides should never have been approved for use in the first place for spraying near homes, schools, children’s playgrounds and other public areas.”

Find out more

In 2003, Ms. Downs produced a DVD that featured individuals and families from all over the country reporting acute and chronic long-term illnesses and diseases in rural communities surrounded by sprayed fields. Acute effects include rashes, itching, sore throats, burning eyes, nose, blistering, headaches, nausea, stomach pains, burnt vocal chords, amongst other symptoms. The most common chronic long-term illnesses and diseases reported include various cancers, especially breast cancer among rural women, neurological conditions, including ME, asthma and many other medical conditions. However, Government officials and advisors dismissed the content of the DVD and have continually failed to act on any of the evidence produced by Ms. Downs. (see ITN clips of the original spraying demo)

Yet today’s Judgment concludes that Ms. Downs had produced “solid evidence that residents have suffered harm to their health”, particularly in relation to acute effects, and that “a different approach” should have been adopted and accordingly there has “been both a failure to have regard to material considerations and a failure to apply the [European] Directive properly.”

What will Gordon Brown do?

Ms. Downs called on the Prime Minister to intervene and stop his Government appealing against the court’s decision. She stated, “I would now suggest that the Prime Minister himself sees the evidence I have presented in my case first hand without being told by his advisors that there is nothing wrong…”

Vote for the same rights as bees!

14 November, 2008

Georgina Downs’ landmark decision at the High Court today shows that when it comes to pesticide protection – humans are worse off than honeybees!

In his ruling, Mr Justice Collins said it was interesting to note that the 1986 Control of Pesticides Regulations requires that beekeepers must be given 48 hours’ notice if pesticides harmful to bees are to be used.
“It is difficult to see why residents should be in a worse position,” he said.

Collins said the government had failed to comply with a European directive to protect rural residents. He ruled that Georgina Downs had produced “solid evidence” that residents had suffered harm.

How have successive UK governments been able to get away with having such a poor sense of balance when it comes to pesticides? And why did the NFU respond so badly to the court’s ruling? Sprays and seed treatments which harm honeybees are being brought into the spotlight as scientists try to discover the causes behind colony collapse. But of course Ms Downs was campaigning many years before bees exhibited colony collapse syndrome and now only this legal battle seems to have won the goverment’s attention.

Beekeepers march on Downing Street

5 November, 2008

The British Beekeepers Association marched on Downing Street today. They want Defra to put more effort and funding into the honeybee crisis. What crisis? Take a look at the Autumnwatch report into what is happening to our honeybees.

The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) points out…
“Honeybees don’t just produce honey – they play a vital role in pollinating plants for food and other crops, making a substantial contribution of £165 million per annum to agricultural output. They also have an important environmental role, being responsible for pollinating wild plants which produce seeds and fruits on which birds and wild animals depend.”

“Increased beekeeping research is thus essential if we are to find answers and be able to protect our bees and the benefits they bring to everyone.”

Yesterday the Soil Association launched a campaign against neonicotinoids – pesticides that can interfere with bee navigation, research suggests. Germany, Italy and other countries have banned these already, in support of bees, because of their importance to food production.

honey by beefarmer Norman DavisHere at Sheepdrove, our honey is one of those products for which you enjoy and don’t necessarily think about all the hard work behind it. Norman Davis, our bee farmer, makes a massive effort all year round (the bees deserve some credit too!) to make sure we get a high quality honey.

Norman attended a meeting in Westminster on Monday to put the case for Bee Farmers to Defra. He is very concerned about the viruses and parasites that honeybees are having to fend off. But he’s not giving up on the bees, despite the heartbreaking losses of bees that he has experienced in the last 2 years. Here’s hoping for a better year for bees in 2009, and the increase in research they deserve.

Farmers Weekly SOS

1 August, 2008

“Save Our Sprays” – the plea from Farmers Weekly Magazine. Are they serious? Do the multinational chemical companies actually need a helping hand to fight against EU pesticide reform?

Poor old Monsanto and friends! In fact this review of harmful substances has been on the cards for a long time, so this latest bandwagonning seems rather desperate.

FW make big hypothetical statements “…the EU Commission could wipe out 80% of pesticides…” but other bodies reckon a 15% deselection of the most harmful compounds is more likely, leaving farmers with a considerable arsenal of poisons if they wish to use them. (UK agency the PSD made estimates ranging from 15% to 85%.)

But why the campaign to continue spraying a cocktail of biocides on our food, polluting people, water and soils? The Daily Mail recently quoted Prof Vyvyan Howard, toxico-pathologist at the University of Ulster, and a member of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides, who said, ‘It has been my position for many years that a precautionary reduction in the levels of the most hazardous pesticides by substitution makes good sense.’

Pesticides that could be banned include a family of fungicides used on cereals called triazoles thought to be hormone disrupters, a potato fungicide mancozeb linked to cancer, and the insecticide family of pyrethroids – which can affect the human nervous system.

Pesticides are a sort of addiction for the ‘modern farmer’ – a habit pushed by the chemical companies who sell them fertilisers too. Actually chemical fertilisers nowadays seem to be less and less economical and sustainable because they use so much fossil fuel. And their effect is often fast, sappy growth, making crops more vulnerable to attack from pests… which forces farmers to resort to pesticides as a matter of course.

If you would rather choose an organic future, take a look at our website and online shop.

> an interesting discussion about this recently on Radio 4.
> Blog site ‘Not Delia’ discusses the SOS campiagn