LETTER FROM GEORGINA DOWNS IN THE INDEPENDENT
In a previous post (8 June, 2006) there is mention of Georgina Downs, the woman who took on the government over the issue of pesticide spraying. For some reason, this was a very unlicensed business, and it was making people sick. Downs was persistent and got the Secretary of the Environment to take action. In today's letters section of the Independent she weighs in with her view of the legislation: "There are serious flaws throughout the existing regulations, particularly the lack of protection for people in the countryside from cropspraying."
Perhaps Downs expects the government to care for the people in the countryside, which has been ruled from London by a government that cares very much - for profits made by non-British corporations. Just ask the Carlyle Group about how kind Tony Blair has been to give them £335m worth of Quinetic stock for only £40. Someone made a mistake, accidentally on purpose, or was just very kind, but not to the people in the countryside who make our bread and butter. There are only so many hours in the day, and when they are spent in selling off British assets to George Bush, there is not a lot of time left for UK citizens.
Which, as Downs points out, can be illegal - as pesticides are not supposed to be approved for use until risk assessments have been undertaken to provide evidence that there will not be a health risk; her letter makes it clear that "there has never been an adequate risk assessment for the longterm exposure for those who live, work or go to school near sprayed fields."
She is not speaking out of her own opinion here, she goes on to note: "At least three official reports have heavily criticised the existing monitoring system for pesticides, the Select Committee on Agriculture report in 1987, the British Medical Association report in 1990 and more recently the Royal Commission report, all of which have concluded that none of the government agencies involved with pesticides had made any serious attempt to gather data on the chronic effects of pesticides on human health."
So what does the government say about it? That a 'robust system' is in place. Yeah, right. Translated into English that means "bugger off and leave us alone to suck up to pesticide companies." Which is what many ministers will do if left alone. That is why I do not leave them alone, I make it a point now to contact them every day. Some are responsive, some OK, some have hostile press secretaries who would really like me to go to hell. I will be posting the responses here in the near future and talking publicly about it as well.
Part of the way to alleviate pesticide spraying is to sow hemp, for which, according to a Defra report made in 2005, there are no listed pesticides. The photo above, (taken by Dru Lawson of The Hemp Trading Co.) is of a field harvested in Essex on 4 August, and it was then noted that no pesticides were used and neither were there any infestations. That same report, kindly sent to me by Mark Quinlan at Defra, recommended hemp for this reason and for reasons of biodiversity.
Continual pressure on Defra officials to get them to do their job will be of great benefit to everyone, and I encourage all to follow Downs' example. The switchboard number for Parliament is 020 7219 3000, which gets one through to Lords and Commons.
~you don't get what you expect, you get what you inspect~