NEWS

Court bars spraying of Attica pines

A government decision to spray Attica’s pines with insecticide, in a bid to rid the trees of a lethal sap-sucking insect, has been overturned by the country’s highest administrative court which deemed the substance to be carcinogenic. The Council of State upheld an appeal by an Athens University anatomy professor against the use of the insecticide, which trades under the name Insegar 25 WP and contains the carcinogenic substance Fenoxycarb, court officials said. «The systematic spraying (of chemicals) in urban areas has not been recorded anywhere in the world. There was just one instance in Hungary, many years ago, which was prohibited following protests by residents,» professor Polixeni Nikolopoulou-Stamati told Kathimerini. The spraying of Attica pines had been due to begin at the end of May. The court reached its decision after discovering that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has categorized Fenoxycarb as a carcinogenic substance, legal expert Giorgos Balias told Kathimerini. «None of the substances included on the ministry’s list of insecticide sprays distributed to municipalities are included in the catalog of substances approved by the European Union,» Balias said. But according to Nikolopoulou-Stamati the story will not end with the court ban. «The fact that this substance has been banned does not mean that all the others are harmless,» she said. «Insecticides have a disturbing effect on the glands and hormones and have been shown to upset fertility and cause cancer.» Nikolopoulou-Stamati also suggested that the measures being taken by the municipal authorities conducting the spraying were not adequate to protect public health. «These substances are active for more than 20 days, but the areas being sprayed are only cordoned off for two hours,» she said. A scheme last year to spray public areas where pine trees have been afflicted by the Marchalina hellenica bug was stopped in September after experts deemed that the pesticides could have a negative impact on «ecological processes.» This year’s scheme comes more than a decade after authorities introduced the insect to Greek pine forests in a bid to boost honey production.