A Bitter-Sweet Decision - Pesticides And Best Practice

The Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling that could have compromised UK farming's ability to apply pesticides.

We reported in the 2008 November Agricultural bulletin on the High Court's ruling in a case brought by Georgina Downs. This found that the UK Government had breached EU rules on safe pesticides application.

The High Court had applied a strict interpretation of the wording of the European Directive, which effectively meant that no pesticide could be used unless it could be established that it had no harmful effect on human health.

The Court of Appeal has taken a much more risk-based approach: "The current risk-based system acknowledges that the danger posed by a substance does not just depend on how toxic it is, but is also affected by how it is used in the real world. An example often used is a cup of coffee: it contains many carcinogens, but levels are low and the body processes them naturally and effectively."

However, it is not quite a case of businessas- usual. Defra has conceded that the rules on applications may need to be tightened up to protect bystanders from pesticides. It plans to consult this autumn on a range of topics, including:

how to give people access to farmers' records of spraying activity near their properties how to give prior...

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