Georgina Downs is the founder of the UK Pesticides Campaign. After many years of ill-health due to exposure to pesticide use on agricultural land near to where she lived, she start the campaign in order to change the UK Government's regulations governing use of agricultural pesticides.
In 2006, she was honoured by several organisation for her ceaseless campaigning to change health regulations that would have the potential to benefit millions of people across the UK who live in areas that are affected by agricultural pesticides.
About a year after moving into their new property in a rural area, adjacent fields were bought by a local farmer to be used for intensive agriculture. During the years that followed, The Downs family enjoyed their rural location, regularly spending time outdoors and having the house windows and doors open - including during the spraying season in summer.
After years of cumulative bystander exposure to the pesticide spraying, Georgina's health deteriorated. She suffered many health problems including flu-like symptoms, headaches, mouth blisters, and, most severely, muscle wastage that required hospitalisation.
UK Pesticides Campaign
Continued ill health while at college resulted in Downs deciding she had suffered enough. Researching the subject of pesticides and their effects on human health, she resolved to challenge government regulations. The UK Pesticide Campaign was started in 2001. It centres on the issue of pesticide exposure for people in agricultural areas.
Downs has gained much support from the public in rural areas, and has been honoured by several organisations for her determined campaigning. She now has a database of many hundreds of people who have informed her of their own illnesses due to their proximity to farms that use pesticides.
Downs' campaigning resulted in the UK Government initially asking their own advisors - the ACP (Advisory Committee on Pesticides) - to conduct a study in 2002 into current practice and the evidence supplied by Downs. The ACP subsequently dismissed the evidence as inadequate. Late in 2004, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution was requested to conduct a study into the effects of pesticides on human health. The RCEP's report agreed with Downs' claim that current regulations are inadequate, unfortunately the report also proposed that a mere five-metre buffer zone be imposed around any agricultural land that is subject to spraying. Downs considered this conclusion to be arbitrary and inadequate. In effect, by accepting the ACP's recommendations the UK Government has ignored the independent evidence and recommendations of Downs and the RCEP. Downs' battle to change the regulations continues.
Awards and Nominations
Andrew Lees Memorial Award. In 2006, Downs was judged joint winner of the Andrew Lees Memorial Award "in recognition of her campaigning efforts."
British Environment and Media Awards. In 2006, Downs won a prestigious award at the 2006 BEMAs in recognition of her campaigning efforts.
Heroine Award. In 2006, Downs was honoured at Cosmopolitan magazine’s Fun Fearless Female Awards with Olay for her "her tenacious and fearless campaign on the health risks of pesticides."
She was also been nominated for Campaigner of the Year in the Observer Ethical Awards 2006.
Farmers Weekly listed her in the Top 20 Power Players in UK Farming of 2006.
- UK Pesticide Campaign, Georgina Downs biography page
- The Ecologist, "Pesticide Nun"
- Warmwell, "Campaign to regulate pesticides"
- Warmwell, "Key Government Advisors (the ACP) Criticised Over Pesticides"
- The Ecologist, The Friary Press, ISSN 0261-3131
- Silent Spring, Penguin Books Ltd., 2000. ISBN 0-141-18494-9
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