Return to

Environmental causes of ME must now be taken seriously says leading campaigner as Parliamentary Group on Scientific Research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) today publishes its Inquiry Report
Leading pesticides campaigner Georgina Downs of UK Pesticides Campaign ( says the Government and its scientific advisors must now seriously consider the role of environmental pollution from pesticides and other toxic chemicals as one of the potential causes of the neurological illness ME.
Ms. Downs, who recently published an article looking at case studies and research linking pesticide exposure to the onset of ME, says, Given the lack of epidemiological and biomedical research into the causes of M.E. its perhaps not surprising that there is uncertainty over the exact nature and importance of the link between M.E. and pesticides. But considering that many pesticides are toxic to the nervous system, and that there is a growing body of evidence linking pesticides to various chronic neurological and neuro -degenerative diseases, then an association with some cases of M.E. would appear highly probable.
A report published today by the Parliamentary Group on Scientific Research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) (also known as the Gibson Inquiry) entitled "Inquiry into the status of CFS/ME and research into causes and treatment" says that CFS/ME can be a severe incapacitating illness and those who suffer from it may have their lives completely ruined. Carers and families are equally affected.
The Inquiry calls on the government to rectify the historical bias toward a psychological model regarding ME and commission a genuinely independent panel of medical experts consisting of virologists, immunologists, geneticists, biochemists etc. who can asses the international and UK evidence objectively.
The Inquiry states, In the course of our investigations, we were made aware of research that has been done internationally. In Britain , there has been a clear historical bias towards research into the psychosocial explanations of CFS/ME. This is despite Parliament recognising ME as a physical illness in a Private Members Bill, the ME Sufferers Bill, in 1988.
The inquiry goes on to state, More research into possible causes and treatments is vital and calls on the MRC to encourage research projects into a biomedical model, Government should fund more research into potential causes, which might lead to better diagnostic tests, and invite applications. Investigating potential sub-groups must be a strong priority the Inquiry says.
Ms. Downs says that one such sub-group must be those who have gone on to develop chronic neurological problems, which is often diagnosed as ME, following exposure to pesticides.
Ms. Downs states, Over the last 5 years I have received thousands of emails, letters and calls from rural residents, not only across the UK, but from all over the world, reporting acute and chronic long-term illnesses and diseases in rural communities surrounded by fields that are regularly sprayed with pesticides. One of the most highly reported illnesses is ME.
The Inquiry recognizes the potential association with pesticides and states, The evidence for a toxin aetiology requires critical and controlled studies. This includes research into possible causes, like pesticides.
In 2005 the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) published a report entitiled Crop-spraying and the Health of Residents and Bystanders, which concluded that chronic illnesses and diseases reported by people in rural areas including ME, Parkinsons and cancer, could be associated with pesticide exposure.
In July of this year the European Commission clearly acknowledged the long-term impacts of pesticides with the statement, Long term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, sterility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system and genetic damage.
Ms. Downs states, In agriculture, in particular, pesticides are often used in mixtures involving many different pesticide groups and the effect of this chemical cocktail on human health has not been assessed. Many groups of pesticides in themselves are known to have neurotoxic capabilities and there are a number of international scientific studies that have linked exposure to pesticides with the onset of ME. Therefore public exposure to all pesticides groups must now be taken seriously by those whose duty it is to protect the nations health.
Contact: Georgina Downs , UK Pesticides Campaign
Tel: 01243 773846 Mobile : 07906 898 915 Email:  
Notes to Editors:-
7        For further information on the Parliamentary Group on Scientific Research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) Inquiry Report see or contact office of Ian Gibson MP 0207 219 4038/ Ian Gibson MP 07714 344 550
7        For more information on Ms. Downs article entitled Crop-Spraying: Could pesticide exposure have caused your ME published in the June 06 edition of Interaction, the journal of the charity Action for M.E. contact  
7        The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollutions report entitled Crop Spraying and the Health of Residents and Bystanders is available at:- 
7        For the Q&A relating to the EU Thematic Strategy on pesticides that contains the European Commission statement Long term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, sterility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system and genetic damage see:-
7      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. Ms. Downs has lived next to regularly sprayed fields for 22 years. 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
7        For the last 5 years Ms. Downs has received thousands of emails, letters and calls from rural residents, from all across the UK , reporting acute and chronic long-term illnesses and diseases in rural communities near to fields that are regularly sprayed with pesticides. The acute ill-health effects that are commonly reported to Ms. Downs include sore throats, burning eyes, nose, skin, blisters, headaches, dizziness, nausea, flu-type illnesses, amongst other things. The most common chronic long-term illnesses and diseases reported include clusters of various cancers, leukaemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, neurological conditions, including Parkinsons disease and ME, asthma, allergies, along with many other medical conditions. (NB. Under the existing regulatory system there is no monitoring or collection of data on chronic effects, so the full extent of ill-health related to pesticides is currently not known) 
 7    Georgina Downs   currently has an application in the High Court   seeking  permission for a Judicial Review regarding the Governments failure to protect people from pesticides. The application will be studied by a Judge who will decide whether it  should go to a full High Court hearing. This decision is likely in approximately 3 weeks
7        Georgina Downs won the prestigious Andrew Lees Memorial Award at the 2006 British Environment and Media Awards (BEMAs), on Wednesday 22nd March 2006
7        Ms. Downs won the Heroine Award at the Cosmopolitan magazines inaugural Fun Fearless Female Awards with Olay on 7th November 2006. For further information see
7        Ms. Downs is also a nominee in the Campaigning category of the Morgan Stanley  Great Britons Awards 06 see
Contact: Georgina Downs
UK Pesticides Campaign
Telephone: 01243 773846
Mobile: 07906 898 915





































Archive July and August 2005

Archive Jan 2005 - July 2005

Archive Oct 2004 - Dec 2004

Archive August 2004 -October

OTHER WARMWELL ARCHIVES(opens in new window)