UK Pesticides Campaign

UK Pesticides Campaign

The UK Pesticides Campaign is a campaign started in 2001 by Georgina Downs with the aim of changing the United Kingdom Government's policy on the use of pesticides in agriculture within the UK.

Current regulations for the use of pesticides in the UK require that workers wear appropriate protective clothing and follow prescribed procedures for the handling of toxic agricultural substances. These regulations do not extend to exposure of such substances by members of the public. Farmers are not required by law to reveal the nature of the chemicals they use, nor are there any rules limiting how close to adjacent premises they may spray a chemical.Fact|date=September 2007

The UK Presticide Campaign challenges current policy by focusing on pesticide exposure for people in agricultural areas.

Background

The Campaign originated from the ill health suffered by its founder, Georgina Downs. While living in a rural location during her teens and early twenties, Downs suffered repeated illness due to cumulative bystander exposure of pesticide spraying from nearby agricultural farmland. Her repeated suffering prompted Downs to investigate the issue of pesticides and their effect on human health. Her research also included a study of current legislation on the use of pesticides. What she found fired her will to challenge the UK Government's policy on pesticide use.

UK Pesticides Campaign

The Campaign centres on the issue of pesticide exposure for people in agricultural areas. Downs conducted her own research into the problem and discovered that farmers are not legally obliged to inform nearby residents of the type of chemicals used, nor how dangerous they are. Yet, these same farmers have to adhere to any safety regulations when using the chemicals, such as wearing protective clothing. Although laws exist to limit the amount of pesticide residues in soils and plants, no laws exist to protect the public from the spraying of pesticides.

The Campaign has gained support from members of the public in rural areas who have suffered illness due to their proximity to farms that use pesticides, from organisations related to environmental concerns, and from awards organisations that honour outstanding achievement. Downs now has a database of nearly one thousand cases of people living in areas where pesticides are used regularly.

The UK Pesticides Campaign has gained media exposure since its inception, with newspaper, TV, and radio reports and interviews in the UK.

The Campaign is not alone in its pursuit of tighter regulations, with there being similar concerns about pesticide use in other countries such as the United States, and within the EU.

Campaign chronology

*2001 - Downs started the UK Pesticide Campaign to challenge UK Government policy.

*2002 - the Campaign presented to the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) its first evidence suggesting a causal link between pesticide spraying and ill health. The Committee subsequently rejected the evidence as insufficient. Perversly, the UK Government's Pesticides Safety Directive (PSD) recognises the danger of pesticides to organisms as they lead a campaign to protect wildlife against illegal poisoning by the use of pesticides.

*2004 - the Environment Minister said there was no evidence to support the introduction of buffer zones, but requested the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) to carry out an independent study into the effects of pesticides on human health.

*2005 - the RCEP's report agreed with Downs' claim that current regulations are inadequate, and concluded that crop spraying is a health risk. However, its recommendation was that a minimum five-metre buffer zone be imposed around sprayed areas as a precautionary measure. Downs considered this conclusion to be arbitrary and inadequate.

*2006 - the UK Government rejected the RCEP report's conclusion stating that the fears were "not robustly founded in scientific evidence" and highlighting the "lack of rigour in the underlying science" of the evidence.

*To date, the Government has ignored the independent evidence and recommendations of the Campaign and the RCEP.

References

# [http://www.pesticidescampaign.co.uk/background.htm UK Pesticide Campaign, Georgina Downs biography page]
# [http://www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=581 The Ecologist, "Pesticide Nun"]
# [http://www.warmwell.com/georginadowns.html Warmwell "Campaign to regulate pesticides"]
# [http://www.warmwell.com/pesticidesfeb606.html Warmwell "Key Government Advisors (the ACP) Criticised Over Pesticides"]
# [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/03/2007_06_mon.shtml BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour, "Georgina Downs - Pesticide Campaigner"]
# [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/breakfast/4270340.stm BBC Breakfast TV, "Pesticides"]
# [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1821681,00.html The Guardian, "Judgment day for pesticide crusader"]
# [http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/index_en.htm European Commission, "Food Safety - Plant Health"]
# [http://www.soilassociation.org/web/sa/saweb.nsf/a71fa2b6e2b6d3e980256a6c004542b4/e6238b65a4346a51802571c00030cc9a!OpenDocument Soil Association, "Government rejects demands to protect the public from pesticides"]
# [http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/environment.asp?id=504 PSD "The Campaign Against Illegal Poisoning of Wildlife (CAIP)"]


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