Spray buffer campaigner to sue

A PROMINENT PESTICIDES campaigner has vowed to sue the government over its decision not to introduce no-spray buffer zones around residential dwellings.

Georgina Downs, who has claimed her family‘s health has suffered due to spraying near her home, said junior DEFRA minister Alun Michael‘s decision was “outrageous”.

“The evidence demonstrating the impact crop spraying has had on the health and lives of so many people is unarguable,” said Ms Downs.

“But it has been repeatedly dismissed and ignored by the government and its advisers in favour of maintaining the status quo and protecting chemical company interests.”

Ms Downs claimed support for her campaign from people all over the country who have reported clusters of acute and chronic long-term illnesses and diseases linked to crop spraying.

“[The government is] fully aware of the dangers, but have sat on this information, not informed the public and allowed people to be poisoned,” added Ms Downs.

But Defra stressed that the minister‘s top priority had always been to protect public health and that there was no evidence to suggest buffer zones were needed on public health grounds.

“There has never been any attempt to keep information from the public,” said a DEFRA spokesman.

“Ms Downs herself has had very open access to ministers and officials involved.”

Pesticide Action Network said the government‘s decision on buffer zones would lead to “continued misery and danger for thousands of people living next to sprayed fields”.

The new pilot scheme, announced by the government, that will explore how the public could get greater access to spray records, was a step forward, said PAN-UK‘s Alison Craig.

But new statutory powers requiring farmers to show records to a third party should be extended to free and open access to all.

“It‘s a fundamental principle that people have a right to know what they are exposed to.

“We‘ve achieved that with pesticide residues. It‘s now time to extend that to point of use,” said Ms Craig.