Green activists renew pesticide control calls

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 August, 1997, 12:00am

Environmentalists yesterday renewed their call for the Government to strengthen pesticide controls following the landmark award of $24.5 million to American musician Kristan Phillips.

Mr Phillips suffered brain and neurological damage after inhaling the pesticide Diazinon in 1987, during rehearsals for the Philharmonic Society at the Academy for Performing Arts.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Lisa Hopkinson said it was time for the Agriculture and Fisheries Department to tighten the use of environmentally damaging pesticides.

She singled out Diazinon and Paraquat, another pesticide, as particularly dangerous to animals.

Ms Hopkinson said: 'Diazinon is highly toxic to wildlife and Paraquat was found in several dog poisoning cases. They should be banned.

'The department says it reviews the list of registered pesticides regularly, but I think it looks mostly at efficiency and alternatives rather than effects on human health and the environment.' A report by the environmental group, with recommendations on pesticides, said Diazinon could cause skin and eye irritation and was highly toxic to fish and birds.

The United States banned the use of Diazinon on golf courses and some farms when birds died after being in contact with it.

Green Power chairman Dr Ho Kin-chung said pesticide users such as farmers and pest control companies were careless and often failed to follow instructions.

He said the department should standardise warning and instruction labels on pesticide bottles. The department's Agricultural Officer Michael Cheng Wan-kuen said Diazinon could still be legally sold.

There were no plans to change that despite the court ruling, he said.

The Court of First Instance ruled on Thursday that Mr Phillips, 47, suffered from his exposure to Diazinon during a practice session on June 21, 1987, when the venue was sprayed with the chemical for pest control.

The Health Department has no record of pesticide poisoning unrelated to farm use on vegetables.