ethics girl has been ranting again!

Can I stop a farmer spraying pesticides close to my home?

Oh, I wish! Unfortunately, residents near pesticide-sprayed fields don’t even have a legal right to be informed of when spraying will occur, which would help them avoid exposure. The above article in the Guardian has generated much discussion about the topic, and I have made a couple of comments about my own situation.

Pesticides are highly-toxic, otherwise they would not be effective. Despite medical evidence of the effects in humans, people still claim that they are harmless. In addition to being toxic individually, untested mixtures of pesticides are sprayed into the natural environment. Then, these untested mixtures combine in the environment with whatever other combination neighbouring farmers spray, with devastating effects.

The regulations and guidelines on pesticides are inadequate to protect nearby residents. Georgina Downs has been running the UK Pesticides Campaign single-handedly for many years, fighting for the rights of residents living near crop fields. In 2008, Georgina Downs won her case in the High Court: it ruled that the Government’s policy was unlawful, because residents are considered ‘by-standers’, yet residents suffer repeated exposures, possibly over many years, rather than the one-off chance exposure a passer-by might experience. The Government appealed and the ruling Georgina Downs fought so hard for was over-ruled the following year, a devastating outcome for all those hoping to get the right to protection from these toxins.

Partly as a result of Georgina Downs’ campaign, the Government consulted in 2010 on how new EU legislation should be enacted in the UK. The outcome of DEFRA’s consultation was to ‘maintain the status quo’, thus the Government continues to contravene EU legislation, and residents near sprayed crop fields still have no right to know when spraying will occur, or what is sprayed. Georgina is now taking the case to the European courts. See the UK Pesticides Campaign website for more details.


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