6 November 2000
Call for pesticide safety review
By FWi staff
GOVERNMENT advisors must urgently review the safety of an insecticide linked to Parkinsons disease, claim campaigners for reduced pesticide use.
US scientists say rats exposed to natural pesticide rotenone – commonly known as derris – developed the crippling brain disease.
The team from Emory University, Georgia, found the animals developed the trembling associated with the disease and characteristic brain lesions.
Rotenone is used by organic growers and is a popular gardening alternative to synthetic pesticides. It is also used to stun or kill fish.
Hearing the findings, Peter Beaumont of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) called the Advisory Committee on Pesticides to urgently review rotenone use.
He said the US work could suggest how long-term low doses of a number of pesticides may affect humans.
Exposure to organophosphates and endocrine disrupting pesticides could lead to similar problems, he said.
But a spokesman for Ford Smith, which sells 300 litres of FS Liquid Derris each year to organic growers and professional nurserymen, backed the product.
He said that, while he had not seen the US data, humans were unlikely to encounter harmful levels.
“For any chance of a human being affected to the level which merely stuns a fish, they would have to breathe in half a litre of derris at a time,” he said.
“Exposure to this level isnt going to happen unless someone drinks it.”
He added that long-term effects were not a problem because rotenone degraded very quickly in sunlight.
A Ministry of Agriculture spokeswoman said advisors needed to consider the data before deciding whether to review the status of rotenone.