UK: Landmark victory for Georgina Downs
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
The environmental campaigner Georgina Downs, who runs the UK Pesticides Campaign, won against the government in a long legal battle over the use of pesticides. The high court ruled that Georgina Downs had produced solid evidence" that people exposed to chemicals used to spray crops had suffered harm”. Ms Downs said that the government had failed to address the concerns of people living in the countryside who had repeatedly been exposed to mixtures of pesticides and other chemicals, the Guardian reports. People were not given prior notification about what was to be sprayed near their homes and gardens. The fact that there had never been any assessment of the risk to health for the long-term exposure for those who lived, worked or went to school near pesticide-sprayed fields was an absolute scandal, considering that crop-spraying had been a predominant feature of agriculture for over 50 years.
The court stated that the government had failed to comply with a European directive designed to protect rural communities from exposure to the toxins. Defra had to reassess its policy and investigate the risks to people who were exposed. In his ruling, the judge highlighted that the 1986 Control of Pesticides Regulations said that beekeepers had to be given 48 hours notice if pesticides harmful to bees were to be used. According to the judge, it was difficult to see why residents should be in a worse position.
The European parliament's environment committee has approved new ways of assessing the risk of potentially hazardous sprays to protect crops and plants. The new criteria are part of an attempt to halve the use of toxic products in European farming by 2013. A final vote on the proposals is due soon.
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