A court in Assen has ruled that a lily bulb grower must stop using pesticides because they may be causing neurological diseases.
The judge upheld a claim by two outdoor activity companies and a group of private individuals who are based near the Natura 2000 area Drents-Friese Wolde Leggelderveld.
The judge said the claimants had a legitimate concern that their exposure to a mix of pesticides put them at risk of contracting diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, the muscle wasting disease ALS, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Even though the lily farm owner has been taking measures to control harmful effects – for instance by using 75% biocides and having a dedicated pesticide-free zone – the judge did not consider the risks to have been brought back to an “acceptable level”.
He said that although research into the link between pesticides and neurological diseases is “inconclusive”, American research has shown it is highly likely.
“The health of the local inhabitants trumps the higher profitability of the lily bulb business,” the judge said. The farm claimed it would incur losses of €1.2 million if ordered to stop spraying.
Last year, European research led by Wageningen university showed that 42% of Dutch farmland has excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphates, in addition to widespread contamination with pesticide compounds.
The results of a study led by Radboudumc neurologist Bas Bloem into Parkinson’s in bulb farming area Bollenstreek, where pesticides are widely used, are expected this year.
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