Call for pesticide review

THE GOVERNMENT‘S decision not to introduce measures to protect the public from exposure to pesticides near farm fields has led to an anti-pesticide campainer filing an application for a judicial review.

Prominent campaigner Georgina Downs believes the government‘s science was inadequate in that it failed to take all factors relating to the issue into account.

The application was filed pending the outcome of a study examining the scientific evidence behind the government’s decision and the government‘s response to this study.

The Royal Commission for Environmental Pollution is undertaking the study, and a public consultation is ongoing.

As part of that process, the commission held a public meeting in London on Sept 25.

At the meeting, Ms Downs said the current system was failing to protect residents and others in the countryside from toxic exposure.

She challenged the use of the so-called “bystander exposure” model in assessing the risk to people in the countryside.

“The bystander model is not appropriate for residents near fields where application of pesticides occurs year after year.

“This is not simply a matter of pesticide exposure at the time of application. This is a matter of the adverse health effects from living with long-term exposure,” Ms Downs said.

Vyvyen Howard from the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool was one of several scientists speaking at the meeting, and he said no research had been done to justify considering neighbours merely as bystanders.

Dr Howard recommended that the RCEP should investigate the difference that substituting the concept of “neighbour” for “bystander” would make to the results in terms of health risks from pesticide exposure.

RCEP chairman Sir Tom Blundell said he hoped the Commission‘s study would be finally drafted by April next year.