Chemical attack, government approved
Richard Bruce draws attention to an issue of Chemical Concern which needs political redress
Georgina Downs (left) is a journalist and campaigner, whose health has been damaged by chemical sprays on fields (opposite) near her family home in Sussex. Read more on her UK Pesticides Campaign website.
She compares the situation with the Grenfell Tower tragedy – in that Grenfell residents had repeatedly warned of the dangers but were effectively ignored – and warns that the Government dismisses health and safety risks raised by those directly affected at its peril.
In a 15 page article, which may be read here, she is naturally outraged that poisonous chemicals – originally designed as weapons of war – have been allowed for many decades, under successive Government policies, to be sprayed on crop fields all over the UK (and most other countries), with literally no protection at all for millions of rural citizens living or attending schools in the locality of such chemically treated areas. This ‘conventional farming’ process has caused thousands of residents to suffer devastating, even fatal, consequences to their health and lives.
A clear case of double standards – Syria and UK:
Georgina points out that earlier this year the Prime Minister rightly condemned the chemical poisoning of innocent civilians in Syria. So it smacks of sheer hypocrisy that her Government continues to permit the chemical poisoning of innocent people – including babies and young children – in this country.
Some of the acute adverse health effects recorded includes: chemical burns (including to the eyes and skin); rashes and blistering; throat irritation (eg. sore and painful throats); damaged vocal chords; difficulty swallowing; chest discomfort; sinus pain; respiratory irritation; breathing problems; shortness of breath; asthma attacks; headaches, dizziness, nausea; vomiting; stomach pains; flu-type illnesses; and aching joints. The most common chronic long-term effects, illnesses and diseases reported to Georgina’s campaign from residents living in the locality of crop sprayed fields include neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Motor Neurone Disease, and neurological damage, as well as various cancers, especially those of the breast and brain, leukaemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, amongst other chronic conditions.
The health and societal costs of such chronic health impacts are colossal.
In an ongoing petition with testimonies from affected residents, the Prime Minister Theresa May, and DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove, are asked to protect rural residents and communities by banning all crop spraying and use of any pesticides near residents’ homes, schools, and children’s playgrounds. The petition has been signed by Hillsborough QC Michael Mansfield, Jonathon Porritt, Gordon Roddick, Ben Goldsmith, and politicians Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones, among others.
The agricultural sector is by far and away the largest user, as approx. 80% of pesticides used in the UK each year is related to agricultural use. Insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides are the main types of pesticides used in agriculture. Latest Government statistics show that in relation to just pesticides alone (ie. not including chemical fertilisers and all the other agro chemicals used in conventional farming), in 2014 the total area treated with pesticides on agricultural and horticultural crops was 80,107,993 hectares.
A key scientific advisor to the Government, Professor Ian Boyd*, has now issued a damning assessment of the regulatory approach used around the world for pesticides sprayed on crops – albeit the failings are still not detailed strongly or extensively enough by any means. Professor Boyd’s article published in the journal Science says regulatory systems worldwide have ignored the impacts of “dosing whole landscapes”, and so the assumption by regulators globally that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes “is false” and must change.
How much has changed since the judgement in November 2008 by the High Court, which ruled that the Government was failing to adequately protect rural communities from the harmful effects of pesticide spraying – a judgment overturned on appeal?
The existing chemical conventional farming system has been an untested, unregulated, and unlawful experiment with human health and the environment to which untold damage has already taken place.