Monday, 16 March 2009

Decades of Inaction over Pesticides.

The Pesticides Safety Directorate(PSD), the key officials advising Ministers on pesticides, receives approximately 60percent of its funding from the agro-chemical industry.

In November last year, Georgina Downs won a High Court victory against the Government over its fundamental failure to protect people in the countryside from pesticides.

Speaking after the ruling, she stated, “The Government’s relentless attempts to protect the industry as opposed to the health of its citizens were abundantly clear in the 2 witness statements produced by the Chief Executive of the PSD. It is striking that, despite such a significant and landmark High Court ruling,that found the Government failing in its legal obligation to protect public health,(particularly rural residents) that neither Witness statement of Mr Wilson displayed any concern whatsoever in relation to securing the protection of public health, nor seemingly any genuine desire to rectify the Government’s policy in accordance with the terms of the judgment.”

The Government’s position regarding pesticides seems to be that they attempt to balance the harm (or risk of harm) to human health with the supposed benefits of pesticides such as cost or economic benefits for farmers and the chemical industry. This doesn’t seem to be a terribly appealing prospect for those people exposed to pesticides from living in the locality of regularly sprayed fields. I doubt if those who are ill with cancer or damage to the immune system caused by pesticides, will comfort themselves with the thought that farmers and agribusiness are benefiting financially.

There have been a number of important European Commission statements that clearly acknowledged the chronic long term impacts of pesticides, including for those living in the locality to sprayed fields. For example, the EC stated that, "Long term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, strerility,birth defects,damage to the nervous system and genetic damage.(Source:

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