Limburg locals confront another lily grower over pesticides

Photo: Depositphotos

Dozens of people living in the village of Sevenum in Limburg have gone to court to ask the judge to prevent a lily grower from planting bulbs on a field bordering on their back gardens because they fear for their health and that of their children.

Pesticides used in lily growing have been linked to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and cancer. Although growers are keeping to the current rules, lilies require four times the amount of pesticides compared to other crops.

Lily growing has increased by 28% in the last decade and the case is the latest in a series of disputes ending up before a judge in which locals have sought to stop or prevent lily growing.

Last year, a judge overturned a verdict to stop a grower from using pesticides and ordered him to limit the number of pesticides from 33 to just four.

According to claimant Laura Redeker, whose garden is some 15 metres away from the field, the lily grower will spray the bulbs with 32 different types of pesticide twice a week.

“The pesticides have been tested individually but not in a cocktail, which is how they are used in lily growing,” she told broadcaster NOS. We don’t know how they interact and we don’t know how that will affect children who are so much smaller than adults.”

Redeker also said the spread of pesticides through the air has been tested but nothing is known about their effects on the skin. Residue on the grass and trampolines could end up on the children’s skin as they play, she said.

“The advice is to stay indoors when spraying is going on. How long? Do I bring the washing in? How long do need to stay inside? What do I use to clean surfaces? No one answers these questions,” Redeker said.

Lily grower Peter van Meijel said he intends to use fewer than 32 pesticides but failed to specify how many he will use. “I don’t want to harm people’s health but if the pesticides have been tested and found safe it should be ok,” Van Meijel is quoted as saying by NOS.

The CTGB, a government agency that monitors the safety status of pesticides, admitted that they had not investigated the cumulative effect of so many being used at the same time. “That needs more research,” a spokesman told broadcaster NOS.

Neurologist Bas Bloem, who has been studying the link between Parkinson’s and pesticides, said the admission by CTBG that more research is needed to show if cocktails of pesticides as used in lily growing may be harmful is a “breakthrough”.

The judge will give his ruling in three weeks.

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