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March 27 2006



Government continues to ignore key Stakeholders, (rural residents and communities) and the health impacts of pesticides, in new National Pesticide Strategy


The launch of the Government’s new National Pesticides Strategy has again shown the Government’s refusal to acknowledge the impact of pesticides on rural residents and communities, which includes impacts on their health, environment, as well as costs and other financial implications.


The strategy entitled “Pesticides and the Environment – A Strategy for the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products,” has completely excluded the health impacts of pesticides altogether and concentrated solely on the effects on the environment.


Information accompanying the strategy states that it “…identifies key UK government and industry policies and initiatives, and legislation related to pesticide use and outlines suggested high level Action Plans to take forward further measures to promote sustainable use. Responsibility for taking forward these Action Plans will rest with a series of Implementation Groups comprising key stakeholders.”


However, despite the fact that the Strategy states that it “…seeks to accommodate, as far as possible”… the differing views of a “…wide range of stakeholders…” the Action Plan Groups are dominated by industry bodies and Government agencies and there is no representation of rural residents and communities with the direct experience of living near sprayed fields, on any of the groups.


Georgina Downs of UK Pesticides Campaign, (, the only campaign solely representing rural residents, communities and the public in general by highlighting the adverse health and environmental effects of pesticides states, “The Government have yet again completely ignored one of the most important Stakeholders in this issue, rural residents and communities. The fact that there isn’t anyone on these action plan groups to represent their interests and that it is dominated largely by industry and Government bodies excludes public participation in the development of this strategy.”


Ms. Downs points out that it was acknowledged by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution that the involvement, knowledge and expertise of people living in the environment of arable crops who actually have the direct experience of pesticide spraying and those reporting effects on their health and environment is absolutely critical in relation to the pesticides issue.1


In relation to the new pesticide strategy’s complete exclusion of human health impacts Ms. Downs states, “The current system for agricultural spraying legally allows mixtures of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals to be sprayed, repeatedly and frequently throughout every year, near to people’s homes, schools, workplaces and other places of human habitation. This has obvious impacts for people living in agricultural areas in relation to the potential adverse effects on their health, as a direct result of the actual release of pesticides into their air and surrounding living environment and therefore the two, health and environment, are inextricable.”


Ms. Downs goes on to state, “The way the strategy is currently presented sends the wrong message to farmers and other users that the effects of pesticides only relates to the environment. This is misleading. The National Pesticides Strategy should be addressing, with the aim of eliminating, both the health and environmental impacts of pesticide use.”


The strategy states that it will review whether it should be extended to human health as part of the review planned for one year after roll out. Ms. Downs states that this only adds further unacceptable delays in protecting public health from pesticide exposure.


Ms. Downs points out that there is currently a clear mismatch and inconsistency between the Government’s long-standing approach to people’s passive exposure to pesticides and the recent more proactive preventative measures that are due to be adopted regarding the ban on smoking in public places to protect people from second hand exposure to cigarette smoke.


Ms. Downs states, “The UK Government and the EU must take immediate action regarding pesticides, which is very long overdue, especially in relation to the protection of children and other vulnerable groups. The only way to protect public health and the environment, for now and for future generations, is through the widespread adoption of truly sustainable non-chemical and natural methods, as an alternative to chemical pest control. This would obviously be more in line with the Government’s commitment to sustainable development, sustainable food and farming and sustainable communities, as the reliance on complex chemicals designed to kill plants, insects or other forms of life, cannot be classified as sustainable.”


Notes to Editors:-


  • Reference:- 1. Comments made by Sir Tom Blundell, former Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) at the launch of the RCEP report entitled, “Crop Spraying and the Health of Residents and Bystanders,” on September 22nd 2005. Further information is available at:- 



  • Georgina Downs runs the UK Pesticides Campaign to highlight the adverse health and environmental effects of pesticides. It is the only campaign that solely represents the interests of rural residents and communities and the public in general. Georgina has lived next to regularly sprayed fields for 22 years and has long-standing health problems. She was the first to identify serious fundamental flaws regarding the bystander risk assessment and for the last 5 years has presented a case to the Government for a change in the regulations and legislation governing crop spraying. She has called for an immediate ban on crop-spraying and the use of pesticides near to people's homes, schools, workplaces and any other places of human habitation and for direct public access to the information on the chemicals sprayed on crops. Ms. Downs has produced 2 videos "Pesticide Exposures for People in Agricultural Areas – Part 1 Pesticides in the Air; Part 2 The Hidden Costs" to illustrate chemical exposure and the effects on people in rural areas


  • Georgina Downs won the prestigious Andrew Lees Memorial Award at the 2006 British Environment and Media Awards (BEMAs), on Wednesday 22nd March 2006



  • Ms. Downs was recently listed in the Farmers Weekly Top 20 Power Players in UK Farming, following the impact of her campaign. Others included in the list were Gordon Brown, Margaret Beckett, Peter Mandelson, Prince Charles, Jacques Chirac and Jamie Oliver. For the full list see:- 


Contact: Georgina Downs

UK Pesticides Campaign

Telephone: 01243 773846

Mobile: 07906 898 915


Website –