Dear Ms Kennedy,
Introduction and Background.
As a former farm manager I was responsible for the purchase and application of pesticides and veterinary products for many years. Following the sale of that farm I was exposed to mixture of pesticides that had been mixed and stored contrary to regulations on another property. This exposure triggered permanent disability and left me severely chemically sensitised but despite having the poisoning diagnosis confirmed by scientific analysis all the supporting procedures failed and I was denied access to the information on the chemicals involved for over 9 years, and access to the initial blood tests that confirmed poisoning for 16 years.
It is obvious to me that I am by no means alone, although my situation is somewhat unusual and probably unique, but this in itself demands that the reporting and investigatory systems are urgently reviewed to ensure that less obvious cases of poisoning are picked up and confirmed at an early stage so as to ensure that correct medical treatments are given, as it is all too easy for doctors to treat symptomatically with drugs that are seriously contraindicated in poisoning. This was a major factor in my case and may well have contributed to my ongoing disability but there are many vulnerable groups in society that we should be protecting from the effects of exposures to the chemicals in pesticides for which, in some cases, there is no dose for which it is true to say that there are no adverse effects, even if those effects do not immediately follow the exposure.
I therefore have an obvious interest in this consultation process and its outcome and although I do not have the means to give any idea of the financial costs and benefits of a notification scheme there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that if a working system is put in place the country would benefit from reduced costs to the health service and benefits agency plus an early warning system capable of highlighting at a very early stage any chemicals or operating practices that may be triggering ill health in the population.
Please refer to information I submitted to earlier consultations, as I see no reason whatsoever for changing any of the information previously provided. In fact, having obtained the results of the first blood test report that confirmed both my exposure and poisoning, serious questions should be asked of the Health and Safety Executive, the Benefits Agency, and the National Health Service as to why they failed to recognise or to acknowledge that scientific evidence, despite the fact that all cases must give permission to those agencies to have complete access to the medical records. Since this was done how do any of those agencies explain why they did not take the information into account when they falsely denied poisoning and why was there a determined refusal to release those important medical reports to the patient knowing that this would lead to the failure of any judicial process that depended on that vital information? In short there should be a high level investigation into what must have been fraudulent activity designed to deceive and pervert justice.
I would add that I am aware of many cases where similar actions have taken place.
If the current system fails, as it obviously does, then all the data relied upon by those who suggest that legally enforceable rules are not necessary is seen to bear no relation whatsoever to the situation on the ground.
I am perhaps fortunate in that I have been involved with doing the actual work and am still in contact with those who apply chemicals, and see the work done regularly around my home. Many local people who have been adversely affected by pesticide applications have also approached me but they have found that the authorities never support them when they report adverse health effects. This may be the result of false record keeping, an issue proven in a major case locally in the late 1990s after years of denial, but it is also clear that the investigating teams appear to overlook the false reporting of chemical mixes, application dates and wind speeds, and also require excessively high standards of evidential proof from those adversely affected.
Over the years I have heard industry spokesmen repeatedly tell us that farmers abide by the rules, are helpful to neighbours, willing to warn of impending applications, and happy to provide information on chemicals.
I fear that such claims are complete nonsense and the consultation document demonstrates this perfectly by reporting that 75% of farmers DO NOT notify neighbours even when they have REQUESTED notification. In my case an illegal mixture of chemicals was involved and as an employee I had the legal right to know what chemicals I had been exposed to but, despite requests from doctors and toxicologists, that information was withheld for almost a decade and then only discovered by a chance comment seen in a statement given to the courts but not shown to me until it was too late. False statements are common.
The regulators must find a way to overcome this problem if any decision, or policy, is to be reliable.
Incidentally I was poisoned as the result of unlawful actions by trained pesticide applicators. Therefore it is clear that, as with driving licenses, training does not ensure that rules are adhered to and even trained people break the rules of mixing, application rates and timings, record keeping, warning neighbours, and disposal.
The British Agrochemical Association and MAFF addressed this problem in the 1980s when the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation was introduced. (See attached) It is hard to understand why the requirement to notify neighbours is so controversial now when it was a requirement then, but it does demonstrate that the voluntary approach has not and never will be effective. This is not surprising since it is unlikely that any farmer would admit to applying illegal chemicals or mixes at times and in conditions when they should not be applied, which despite the claims happens often and we have seen it locally.
1. What is your preferred approach for a National Action Plan and why?
Option 3 is likely to bring the quickest improvement but in my experience it is clear that some groups of chemicals should never have been approved but remain in use for far too long after serious problems have been identified. By the time environmental and health impacts have been officially identified, and then recognised, serious damage will already have been done and may not be reversible.
2. How can NAPs best be used to reduce the risks associated with pesticide use to human health and the environment?
This depends entirely upon the type of system introduced and the effectiveness of information gathering and enforcement policy. A holistic database from advice through to purchase, use, and disposal plus any reported misuse or adverse effects would assist in determining areas or chemicals of risk at an early stage.
3. What are your views on introducing a pesticide reduction target in the UK?
In my view reduction in pesticide use will be seen as essential by all involved eventually as the true and lasting effects of some of the more dangerous chemicals used becomes known. These things take time to show and there is evidence that biodiversity and the essential balance of species in the environment has already been dramatically damaged. For many species, and human health, it may already be too late.
Questions on Article 5 training and certification requirements
4. What is your preferred approach and why?
Training and Certification offers a false hope rather than a certainty of compliance and, since most pesticide applicators work alone for the majority of the time, they are unsupervised and free to act almost as they choose. If the chemicals were made safe in the first instance there would be no need anyway and so the requirement for training, and protective equipment is an admission that the chemicals are dangerous and that ill health can result from exposure. Given the difficulty in providing evidence of breaches of the regulations and the fact that rules are mostly voluntary it will be difficult to withdraw any certificate of competence.
Even when offences have been reported to the investigators every effort is made to avoid taking serious action, even when those actions result in disability or death. Lack of enforcement is failing us all.
Questions on Article 6 sales requirements
8. What is your preferred approach and why?
It has long been a matter of concern that farmers and growers are strictly controlled and yet similar ingredients to those for which there was a requirement to sign the Poisons Book were available to amateur growers in garden centres and supermarkets. It would seem that part of the explanation for this is that weaker formulations are available to amateur users. However it would seem that such users are also at risk as these products have been used to avoid liability in cases of poisoning by the stronger commercial formulations.
It would seem that the manufacturers have the advantage at all stages and are able to avoid blame with ease but surely there must be a requirement that goods on sale should be safe for users and all others? There has to be a revision of the sale of pesticides in supermarkets. This issue has long been a matter of concern and it is difficult to see how pesticides and food can ever be safely sold together.
Questions on Article 7 information and awareness-raising
11. Do you think that more information should be provided to the general public on the risks and potential effects of pesticides?
What information would be useful and how should it be provided?
The information on adverse health effects caused by pesticides should be available to the public via libraries, the internet, GP surgeries, and on direct request from users, Councils and Government departments.
The information should be comprehensive and based not simply on active ingredients but should also include information on the co-formulants and potential breakdown chemicals and how they react when mixed with other chemicals. Information should be provided on request so that any adverse effects can be quickly recognised by the public and by their medical advisers so that appropriate treatments and tests can be done.
I have noticed that the symptoms expected are not always given on product labels now.WHY NOT?
It should be remembered that the most vulnerable might not even be able to read let alone access the Internet.
12. Can you suggest any improvements to the information gathering systems used by government?
I have frequently suggested in the past that there should be a compulsory reporting system for all symptoms that have any suspicion of pesticide involvement. All such reports should be recorded in a retrieval system with the collected chemical and product names plus methods, time and place of use, and weather conditions.
Each case should then be properly investigated and any confirmed case not brushed under the bulging carpet but recorded in a separate database for further investigation and long-term follow-up in order to improve the knowledge of lasting or temporary effects. Efforts should be made to root out and remove from this process all those individuals who have deliberately suppressed the knowledge and evidence of harmful effects in the recent past.
These effects were known and recognised decades ago but are all too often denied today.
Such a system would give the regulators and the manufacturers early warning of potential problems so that steps could be taken to reduce risk. In the current climate of denial the warning systems are failing and there is a strong possibility that ever increasing danger will result and more serious health damage will follow.
I would add that PIAP had access to my medical records and to my GP, and that the HSE were warned that illegal mixes may have been involved but despite this they made false accusations against me and denied that poisoning was even likely not once but on two occasions, with a third avoided, in regard to the same incident.
In other cases too numerous to mention poisoning has also been denied and the circumstances of the exposures falsely recorded, effectively hiding vital information from the manufacturers and regulatory bodies. These failures have been reported to the authorities but those reports have been ignored.
It would seem that any improvement would be good in such circumstances, especially given the conflict of interest now that the Chemical Regulation Directorate, which approves pesticides, is part of Health and Safety, which both investigates and controls confirmation and sanctions in pesticide poisoning cases.
Questions on Article 8 equipment testing
13. What is your preferred approach and why?
I believe it is wrong, completely wrong, to suggest that equipment checks ensure safety. As with vehicle MOT tests any such test is only valid on the day of inspection. On farms a sprayer could be used the following day and be damaged by a tree or pylon, or even by passing over rough ground. Pumps and pipes can fail and tanks can split, almost without warning. Many of us have experienced these things no matter how carefully the machines are maintained.
The equipment should be examined and tested before use anyway, and although there is now an annual inspection in place on accredited farms, I would still suggest that such inspections mean very little in reality as regards safety or safe operation.
14. Do you think a derogation from inspection should be allowed for handheld equipment and knapsacks, or, if not, should a different timetable for inspection be applied to these equipment types?
The same issues apply in knapsack sprayers but there should also be careful review of the designs, as some have allowed liquid to escape down the backs of the operators when seals fail, with obvious dangers.
Given that there has been this problem any derogation would seem inappropriate.
15. Are there any specific types of pesticide application equipment that you think should be exempted from inspection requirements? These could include: pesticide application equipment not used for spraying pesticides (such as granular applicators or equipment for treating seeds) or equipment that represents a very low scale of use.
It seems to me that many machines not at first thought of as pesticide application equipment are used to apply pesticides either directly or as dressings on seeds etc. Some would present little risk to third parties or the operators providing sufficient care is taken but those that broadcast materials for large distances may well require testing to ensure that the spread pattern and application rates are as expected.
16. Who do you think should deliver the inspection scheme and why?
Currently there is only the HSE, or private companies/organisations, and I am not sure that either would provide a service that could be trusted to give a lasting improvement in safety. The costs of all this should be covered by the chemical companies that sell the potentially dangerous products but the testing actually performed should be by an independent organisation.
Questions on Article 9 aerial applications
17. What is your preferred approach and why?
Recently I was contacted by a family who had been harmed by aerial spraying of bracken in the West Country and it would seem that they were not notified and that the spray overshot their house and garden.
Once again we are given an idea of the rules but there is no way to get them enforced.
If the rules were complied with and the chemicals were as safe as is so frequently claimed there would be no problem. Something is clearly wrong.
Perhaps it is simply a matter of the failure to enforce the current regulations, as is so often the case in pesticide matters.
Questions on Article 12 Protection of specific areas
21. What is your preferred approach and why?
There appears to be confusion as to what is Public Space and areas accessible to the public especially since the Right to Roam legislation. Is there an assumption that harm to human health is not as important as that to wildlife and natural habitat? All areas used by humans should also be equally protected.
22. Do you think it is appropriate to prohibit the use of pesticides in public spaces or conservation areas? If yes, what alternative approaches to disease and weed management would you propose in those areas?
Again there would be no problem if the chemicals were actually as safe as claimed, but clearly they are not and therefore all public exposure to pesticides should be minimal, if used at all.
Perhaps better mechanical management would be more appropriate in areas where the public have access, with limited spot treatments only for the control of harmful weeds or insects in specified circumstances.
Questions on Article 13 storage, handling and waste
23. What is your preferred approach and why?
All the questions here assume that the operators will always comply with the regulations.
That I am afraid is dangerous nonsense and not least because the advised methods of storage, handling and waste are in constant flux with frequent changes in requirements. Admittedly some years ago now but the illegal mix in my case was also stored and disposed of contrary to the rules current at the time but no official was concerned about that and alterations to the system made later were wrongly claimed and assumed to have been in use at the time.
Again the problem is one of lack of knowledge and enforcement.
24. Do you think that take-back schemes or amnesties are an effective way of addressing the risks associated with old pesticide products/packaging that may remain in stores? Can you suggest any other suitable schemes?
Given that so many chemicals are being correctly withdrawn for safety reasons a take-back scheme must be in place. Of course the claim is that there is no risk but that is obviously incorrect. Perhaps users should be made more aware of the dangers inherent in stored chemicals, which may begin a dangerous breakdown process? Since withdrawal of approvals results from incorrect safety data then amnesties to protect the innocent parties who have purchased the approved, but then withdrawn, products are essential.
25. Do you think that storekeepers should have a legal obligation to comply with standards for store design, or is it preferable to set guidelines?
Given the risks from terrorism, fire, and theft, there should be legally binding standards, just as there are for other potentially deadly weapons against pests such as shotguns and firearms.
Questions on Article 14 IPM
26. In which areas do you think pesticide users would benefit from more information/advice, to help them adopt integrated approaches?
Integrated Pest Management appears to have been an idea promoted by the pesticide industry in order to ensure the continued use of its products, no matter how dangerous they may be to human life.
Pesticide users should be given more information on the harm they may do to themselves and to others by using the chemicals. Any pesticide use should be the very minimum necessary and although we are told that this is current policy there is still much prophylactic use of pesticides and the use of pesticides to replace mechanical controls. It is essential that the label instructions carry symptom and treatment information.
27. Do you have any thoughts on what type of written evidence/record could be provided by pesticide users (of any sector) to demonstrate compliance with IPM principles?
As mentioned previously all pesticide uses, mixes, times, places, weather information at time of application and the reasons for the application should be accurately recorded. Some of us were doing this in the 1970s so it should not be too difficult with todays data collection methods. Whether IPM is to be involved or not the records could then be examined and advice given albeit too late for change in that season.
In any event it would seem that farmers are not permitted to use pesticides unless under the advice of agronomists and so there will be a paper trail listing the advice given and the chemicals to be used on various crops and fields without the farmers input at all. There must therefore be a simple way to move that planned use advice into actual use data with dates and times of application. The information could even be included in the same database, with sections to be completed by the agronomist and other sections covering purchase and application dates, crop and weather conditions etc., completed by the farmer and or contractor or operator. That database could be held in a suitable local centre, independent of the regulators but part of a national database, and could also be used to notify neighbours, beekeepers, residents and other interested parties. It would also be available to assist any medical or safety compliance investigation that may be required later.
Furthermore all this could be linked to retail sales data with proposed use and disposal also included.
Questions on Article 15 indicators
28. What is your preferred approach and why?
Having been through and tested all the systems that supposedly protect us and investigate incidents it is clear to me that any claim that it is working effectively is a gross exaggeration. The current system does not work.
Furthermore there is a determined reluctance to make it work or to replace it with a working system.
It is suggested that the riskiest phase of use is at the application stage but I disagree since applicators generally have an awareness of the dangers they face but those they can adversely affect by inappropriate actions or use have no knowledge or awareness of the real risks they face and are therefore at greater risk through that ignorance. For example the fields near us were sprayed recently and the very same day children were walking through crop. Was the greater risk to the protected sprayer operator or to the children?
Which group or groups advising government policy suggest that it is the operator?
It is quite clear that direct approaches to farmers for information are not merely ignored but there is no way that the layman can be sure that accurate information is given, even if the farmer or applicator is himself fully aware of the true nature of the chemicals used many use contractors who are themselves ignorant of the dangers. How many would know the full formulation details in a mix? The system is wide-open to abuse.
However, I believe that much of the infrastructure required to create a holistic and world-leading system is already in place and that it would be fairly easy to roll the current information collecting methods into one system that will not only record advice to farmers and the pesticides actually used but could also form a first call source of data to assist the medical profession, epidemiologists and others, to gain early insight into any adverse effects of pesticides. I suggest localised collection of data for each particular region that would be linked to central processing for national statistics and notification of trends and findings to interested parties.
The current system is fragmented, relies on often inaccurate and incomplete information and such failings then result in corrupted data and failure to recognise both exposures and the linked adverse health effects.
There is also a further complication regarding the issue of vested interests that may suppress information that could endanger reputations and or profits of the companies involved.
Questions for spray notification and records disclosure:
29. What is your preferred approach and why?
In Section 6.1 the Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985 is quoted as being introduced to make information about pesticides available to the public.
According to the British Agrochemical Association the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations also gave workers the right to know the details of chemicals used. This is further evidence that the current system fails both workers and the public.
As a worker exposed to chemicals I had a legal right to know what chemicals had been used but despite repeated requests both my doctors and myself were denied access to that information.
Furthermore once disabled and no longer employed I requested that information as a member of the public and was not only denied the information but was obstructed by officials from discovering vital information that was required by my doctors if they were to offer the correct treatment. At all times exemptions from the regulations were quoted along with the all-encompassing commercial confidentiality in efforts to ensure that the required information was never released.
Importantly this was in reference to an employee who later discovered that the chemicals involved were not only mixed unlawfully but were also stored and disposed of in ways contrary to the regulations. If the pertinent facts can be hidden with support from all government departments in a case as serious as this then I must ask how any member of the public suffering from the effects of properly applied pesticides will ever be able to obtain the vital information required either to prove the case or to obtain correct medical treatment?
I should add that my former employer knows that his staff caused my illness with pesticides but despite my susceptibility to pesticides they NEVER notify of pesticide spraying carried out within yards of our home.
Locally farmers spray over footpaths. Some even have special sprayers that are used to spray the footpaths.
From experience it follows that no voluntary measure will ever be suitable for this serious health issue.
No farmer will ever voluntarily admit to using pesticides incorrectly. No operator will voluntarily admit to applying pesticides in dangerous conditions. No regulator will ever voluntarily admit that pesticides were approved when they were actually capable of causing harm. The regulators will never admit that the formulations and mixes actually used on farms can be many times more toxic and persistent than the almost pure active ingredients upon which most approvals are made. No public body will ever admit that the minutes of its meetings are written with omissions employed deliberately to hide controversial problems.
The public cannot properly scrutinize evaluations and decisions when misled in this way.
30. Do you have any information (additional to that presented in our impact assessment) on the potential benefits of spray notification and access to spray records that you can provide us with?
It is clear that the Good Neighbour voluntary system is not working at all.
Locally a member of the public who sat on the council steering committee approached the Council and Government departments last year following a spell of illness that followed her exposure to pesticides that over-sprayed her garden. She was blocked at every stage and found that the council used members linked to farming as a means to dismiss her concerns. This is not unusual and although official letters were written to the farmer she had further cause to complain later when once again spraying was not notified.
In more serious cases the authorities denied harm caused by another farmer, who also just happened to be a councillor. Numerous individuals made complaints and yet none of them were officially recognised even though once again illegal use of pesticides was involved.
Voluntary systems will never work. It is an easy way out that shows contempt for the health of residents.
But the issue does not merely affect those living in the areas affected but it also involves visitors to those areas, families and their children, the elderly, the unborn, and those on medication that may be affected by pesticides. Visitors also made complaints that were dismissed in the case mentioned previously and were not able to obtain accurate details of the chemicals involved.
31. Do you think that it would be appropriate for some or all of the costs to government to be offset by charging enquirers a reasonable fee for handling requests for spray records?
Can a government that prides itself on the Polluter Pays principle really consider that charging the victims for access to the information on the poisons that harm them is a good idea?
Some of us have paid enough and still been unable to obtain the required information. Effectively we pay our taxes for the regulatory and investigative process and then we pay again for legal support and we pay again for the prescription drugs to treat the symptoms but more importantly we pay the wages of the hundreds of officials who work together to prevent us getting the information. Plus we pay the price in lost earnings and lost health due to the induced effects and still it is suggested that we pay again for access to information that is freely available to farmers, the regulators and the manufacturers, but is kept secret from their victims.
It is clear therefore that when it comes to pesticides the polluter is not paying and by this I do not make reference to the farmers. The manufacturers of the poisons are escaping their liability by passing responsibility for dangerous product to the government regulators that never check the accuracy of the safety data they are fed, and who ignore independent analysis if it does not fit with their preferred data source.
The major players in pesticide manufacture also make the drugs used to treat the induced symptoms and they have an extremely profitable industry that is more than capable of using its vast resources to block individuals who require evidence of harm. The government has a duty to protect its citizens and the obvious mechanism of funding would be from taxation or levy on those manufacturers either directly or, if this is not possible with multi-national companies, via additional payments in the approvals or re-registration fees.
32. Do you consider that organisations publishing advance spray schedules would be an effective way of increasing public information? Would your organisation be prepared to do this as a matter of routine?
Of course, by definition, published details of proposed spray schedules would increase public information but these things are subject to change in the course of a season and so agronomist advisory information given to farmers would only be useful, if this were to be backed up by prior notification of actual intent closer to the time of application. If pesticides were used correctly why would anyone not wish to release such information to those who are affected, especially as the information has to be recorded in any event?
33. Do you have any comments on the usefulness of public information signs where the public may have access to sprayed areas?
Posting signs to inform the public at access points to footpaths and entrances to treated fields may protect ramblers and other visitors if they are warned that spraying is in progress or that pesticides have been recently applied but they will do nothing to protect residents and others who live near those operations.
Signs are also stolen or vandalised, which in itself can be problematical and they are unlikely to be able to inform as to which chemicals have been used or times when access should be denied after application because to do so would effectively prevent access to public rights of way.
The signs can warn but they cannot protect because some will not be able to read the signs and this would include the most vulnerable group, children.
34. Since there is limited information available to assess the impacts of an obligation to provide spraying notification on the agricultural/horticultural sector we are seeking the views of those affected groups, in order to prepare a more complete assessment. Therefore we would welcome case studies to demonstrate how such businesses would be affected by the possible approaches in terms of business, financial, administrative and other costs. Can you provide such evidence?
There must be information available on the costs to farmers of notifying beekeepers and the list of pesticides for which there is that requirement is quite long (as issued by MAFF see attached detail).
Is this really a new requirement therefore, and how much of it will actually be at additional cost?
The authorities persist in increasing the burden of paperwork on farmers, whilst at the same time trying to reduce the burden on the pesticide manufacturers. It is a fire-brigade action but the cheapest option is to prevent the fires before they start. My understanding is that pesticides used by gardeners may have similar active ingredients as agricultural pesticides but are much weaker formulations so claimed to carry reduced risk and presumably a lesser need for notification, but is it true since gardeners have also been harmed?
This may explain why garden formulations can inexplicably be sold near food in supermarkets but concerns over this practice have also been ignored. Health concerns take second place to profit.
I would suggest that if there were an obligation to notify neighbours then vulnerable people would have more chance of avoiding exposures that may well cause them to seek expensive medical intervention and suffer long-term illness and so there may well be a cost benefit in such notification, especially if there is a locally run database held by a regional agency, as described above, based on agronomists recommendations and information from the farmers and contractors regarding the chemicals, times and areas of application.
Specific notice of impending pesticide use would be required, as some people would know that they were more susceptible to certain types of chemical than they are to others and more extreme protection methods may be required for some products. This would present no problem at all if a central local system as proposed above was in place as that system would be notified of intent to use pesticides on certain specified sites and that centre would then be able to notify those in the immediate area with some idea as to the expected time of application. This must be done already for beekeepers, or at least a similar system must be in force, and it would be perfectly feasible for both systems to amalgamate, which might also enable scientists to discover if pesticides are indeed causing bee deaths.
Voluntary measures are not working. It is highly improbable that they will ever do so and there is a major problem in the proposals in that notification is proposed only to those who request it. Can someone please explain how a member of the public will know where or who to approach to obtain that notification? How is the ownership of the land to be known to residents and better still for visitors? Even if the land owner is known how is the member of the public to know who is responsible for its management and even then for the application of pesticides? There are simple assumptions made that may well not work in practice and only 25% comply with requests perhaps this is intended as a means to prevent the public obtaining notification?
If however there was a central local reporting point for all pesticide applications then the public could approach that centre to request notification and then there is a possibility of saving costs and ensuring notification to all who need it within that area in a similar way to that used to protect bees.
What process will be in place when a request for notification has been made and yet there is non-compliance with that request? Will there be sanctions and if so who will be the enforcing body? Presumably the Health and Safety Executive will once again take control and since they also approve pesticides and have a record of poorly investigating incidents we are once again faced with potential problems of vested interests protecting the users be they on farms, council or railway property etc.
Question on penalties
35. Do you have any comments on the appropriateness of different types of penalty for non-compliance criminal or administrative?
I am tempted to ask if this is some form of dark humour? There have been numerous cases of criminal and administrative failings in pesticide poisoning cases and many of us have found that we not only get no support from the authorities but there has been a concerted attempt to protect the perpetrators and determined failure to enforce numerous laws and regulations. How can anyone make a judgement on a proposed new law when those we already have are rarely properly enforced?
Of course there should be penalties for both criminal actions and administrative non-compliance but since this is not happening now it is unlikely to happen in the future.
Question on compliance
36. Which approach do you think would be more effective in dealing with non-compliance?
Correct enforcement is what is lacking now. Fines, bans from pesticide purchase/use, even prison sentences for false records and illegal use, might ensure compliance but there are always those who will try and avoid compliance with any legislation. That is how people are harmed currently.
Questions on funding arrangements and the impact assessments
Funding the EC pesticides regime
37. What approach do you prefer and why?
As mentioned above, under the principle that The Polluter Pays the chemical companies should provide the funds required to monitor the effects on human health and the environment that may be triggered by their products. They may have traditionally escaped that liability but this is because of the approvals system and the regulators have allowed the companies to escape blame for providing inadequate and/or inaccurate data in support of their applications. This must be the case or we would not have people becoming ill, environmental damage, and products removed from the market for safety reasons.
I believe this is the escape clause for the Government the regulators do not check the data provided because they do not have the means or resources to do so and the process is entirely reliant on the honesty of the companies concerned. If false data is used to support the approvals process then the liability must revert back to the manufacturers and they must pay the full costs of the monitoring and remedial actions required.
Subsidy of certain fees
38. What are your views on the possibility of subsidising certain special applications from wider charges?
There should be no need for any subsidy and the taxpayer should not be forced to carry any further burden of the costs that are triggered by pesticides or their affects on health, food and water quality, or the environment.
General question on the impact assessment
General question about implementation
40. Do you have any additional comments in respect of any of the issues covered in this consultation?
I do not believe that human health and the environment are being given sufficient priority in this consultation. No pesticide should cause harm to human health. For decades MPs of all parties have proclaimed that if any pesticide was shown to injure human health then it would be banned but that is obviously far from the truth and it is suspected that they simply repeat phrases put to them by the regulatory bodies as a means to reassure concerned constituents.
There has been reference in the advice to farmers about notification of neighbours, and even hospitals and doctors before using some pesticides for over 50 years, and we are still arguing about it. (Zuckerman report)
However, what is becoming clear is that this is not simply a problem here in the UK, although it should be more of a problem here because of our population density. Recently a court in Argentina ordered that one of the chemicals proclaimed erroneously here in the UK to be almost safe enough to drink must not be used within 800 meters of residential areas. The Environmental Agency in the USA is also looking again at residential exposures with a view to forming no spray areas around residential areas nationally although in some states there are already such restrictions. Friends in Canada have long told me that notices must be posted there when pesticides are to be, or have been, used.
For some reason here in the UK we are told that pesticides are no longer harmful when used according to the instructions and yet this is plainly untrue as poisoning cases from perfectly legal applications have long been reported and confirmed when, that is, the authorities fail in their determined attempts to find alternative causes for the reported illnesses.
What must stop are the accusations of mental illness made about those who are susceptible to low exposures to pesticides. The idea that it is all in the mind, the result of fear, psychosomatic and similar phrases appears to be promoted by those who wish to see no further controls on pesticides. Not only is this insulting to those adversely affected but such comments are specified as fraudulent under the terms of the Fraud Act 2006, as they are designed to disadvantage the person to whom such comments are directed and to prevent recognition of genuine, and often scientifically proven, illness with the intent to gain advantage to the person or persons making the false accusations. Those who make such comments do so in ignorance. Susceptible people often notice the induced symptoms before they are even aware that pesticides are being used in the vicinity. I have personally suffered, taken medication to ease symptoms, and only learnt details of the spraying that had taken place prior to the symptoms some days later. I suggest that for those frequently affected by pesticides their fear of seeing sprayers entering fields near their homes is fully justifiable if they have suffered the often-unpleasant symptoms before. Farmers and other users of pesticides may well find that their relationships with such people would greatly improve if they were given the chemical details before use, as they will soon learn which pesticides trigger symptoms and which do not, enabling avoidance.
As I have stated previously I have done the work myself and been diagnosed with poisoning.
How much more difficult is it for those who do not understand?
If human health really is a priority I suggest that the authorities stop talking about this very serious problem and start taking serious action to protect human health as soon as possible.
As a final observation it would seem that those invited to provide information for this consultation are almost all representatives of the very industry that exposes people and the environment to pesticides.
I would suggest that, as a result of that, the outcome of this consultation is predictable and that by far the majority of submissions will be in favour of keeping the failing systems and the continued denial of the reported, and all too often confirmed, effects on both human health and the environment.
An example is the suggestion that the Voluntary Initiative is working well. It may well be helping to suppress information about cases of ill-health but it is certainly not working when it comes to notifying neighbours, preventing prophylactic or even illegal use of pesticides, or preventing environmental contamination and harm to human health.
We are told that if there is a problem with any pesticide it will be banned but in reality this is not happening. In the absence of such action then the duty of the government is to protect its people in other ways. Obligatory notification, regardless of requests, and freedom of access to all details of the chemicals used is a small price to pay for those who profit from releasing the poisons into the environment.
Dated 26/04/10 - Uploaded to website 04/03/2015
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