Anti-pesticide campaigner wins High Court ruling

Anti-pesticide campaigner Georgina Downs has won a legal victory that could mean DEFRA will have to change its policy on protecting the public from exposure to crop sprays.

High Court judge Mr Justice Collins ruled that Ms Downs had presented “solid evidence” that crop sprays had caused her and her neighbours harm and granted a judicial review.

Justice Collins said that DEFRA’s pesticide rules didn’t follow an EU directive which defended rural dwellers from pesticide exposure.

He added that DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn must “think again and consider what needed to be done”.

Ms Downs lives on the edge of farmland near Chichester, West Sussex. She said that crop sprays had caused her sore throats, blisters and other problems since she was 11 years old.

She collected evidence from residents who claimed pesticides had given them cancer, Parkinson’s disease, ME and asthma.

Ms Downs wanted the public to be given as much information about pesticides as growers.

She also demanded to see research into the risks suffered by pregnant women, babies and other vulnerable people who are exposed to sprays in the long-term.

A DEFRA spokesman said the protection of human health was “paramount”.

“Pesticides used in this country are rigorously assessed to the same standards as the rest of the EU and use is only ever authorised after internationally approved tests,” he said.