DEFRA in pesticide row

PESTICIDE CAMPAIGNER Georgina Downs has accused DEFRA of not passing on vital evidence about the effects of bystander pesticide exposure to its chief scientific advisor.

Before the government announced its decision not to introduce pesticide buffer zones, Ms Downs submitted evidence to the government highlighting what she regards as inadequacies of the current regulatory and monitoring systems for pesticides.

Having recently spoken to the government‘s chief scientific advisor, Howard Dalton, Ms Downs learned that he had not seen the material she had submitted before he gave his advice to government on the pesticide issue.

Ms Downs said: “The advice that the chief scientific advisor gave to ministers appears to have been formulated having only heard one side of the argument in relation to the whole bystander issue, which cannot possibly lead to a balanced or fully informed decision.”

In response, DEFRA has stated that it is “inaccurate and absurd” to claim that Dr Dalton was denied access to any information, pointing out that a detailed assessment of all responses was carried out by the Pesticides Safety Directorate, which did consider the submission by Ms Downs along with around 750 others.

“Georgina Downs‘s contribution to the consultation was not a scientific paper and contained no medical or scientific evidence. It contained anecdotal descriptions of adverse effects she believes are caused by pesticides. There was no reason to have singled out Ms Downs‘s submission for Howard Dalton‘s attention, given that it was not a scientific paper,” DEFRA said in its statement.


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