Spray health fears played down

INDUSTRY EXPERTS have hit back at suggestions sprayer operators may be putting their family‘s health at risk.

A Review of Pesticide Research from The Ontario College of Family Physicians contains no new research material, pointed out the Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

“The ACP routinely reviews the literature as a part of its standard work programme,” said a spokesman.

But the report, which identified links between those exposed to pesticides and serious illnesses such as cancer, has been referred to the ACP Medical and Toxicology Panel for further consideration.

The National Farmers Union said that current regulations ensure that no one is exposed to high enough doses of pesticide for there to be a health risk.

“No one is disputing that there may be health problems associated with exposure to large enough doses of pesticides,” said NFU pesticides policy advisor Neil Kift.

“But regulation hinges on the risk that this level of exposure is likely to occur. This is key to the whole argument on buffer zones.”

Very large safety margins are built into regulations, pointed out the Crop Protection Association.

“Manufacturers work extremely hard to ensure pesticides comply or go beyond what is required under existing guidelines,” said CPA chief executive Peter Sanguinetti.

Everyone is exposed to very small doses of mainly natural toxins every day, according to Edinburgh University biochemist Professor Anthony Trewavas.

“Farmers who are exposed to pesticides – their overall cancer rates are very much lower than the average cancer rate in the population,” he told BBC Farming Today.