Neerkant residents concerned about poison use in lily bulb cultivation near their homes

At least once or twice a week, residents living in the vicinity of lily bulb fields in Neerkant cannot go outside for a day, let their children play outside, or release pets in the garden. This is due to the large amount of poison that is sprayed on the lily bulbs grown near their homes in the period from April to the end of October.

Near the Vuurlinie and the Molentjesdreef in Neerkant, almost 5 hectares full of the bulbs are right next to the gardens of the concerned residents. Every week after the spraying with poison they have to clean the things around their house: “Children’s toys, trampoline, swings, garden furniture. Ditto for the indoor environment. It is impossible,” say the families in Neerkant.

Impact bulb cultivation
In a letter to the municipality of Deurne, they drew attention to the problem that they believe is growing in the region. “We were unfamiliar with flower bulb cultivation and were greatly shocked by what we heard and read about the impact of lily bulb cultivation on people, animals, the living environment and nature,” the letter writers indicate.

Close to the Peel
According to the concerned residents, lily bulbs are increasingly being grown in the municipality of Deurne and around it: “Like in the vicinity of the Leegveld. Very close to the Peel. Also in the Belgian corner. Several fields in the town of Veulen – the community house is enclosed by a lily bulb field.”

The people in Neerkant are also not only concerned with the days when poison is injected, because studies show that the vapor of the poison can linger for days and spread over a long distance. The fact that the pesticides used in bulb cultivation are dangerous for humans and animals has been reported by various researchers for several years. In the BNNVARA TV program Zembla, experts already warned in 2013 about the pesticide metam sodium, which is used to disinfect the soil.

According to the residents of Neerkant, why so much poison is used in bulb cultivation is because the lily bulbs are destined for export to Japan, among others. Those bulbs must therefore be in perfect condition, without any damage from fungus, disease or insects. In addition to the poison that ends up on the plants, there would also be regular spraying with weed killer.

The concerned local residents from Neerkant assume that the contracting company that grows the lily bulbs near their homes works according to the guidelines. They also had contact with the entrepreneur who leases the plot from an owner unknown to them. The contracting company that grows the lilies on the leased land indicates that work is carried out in accordance with legal guidelines and that every pesticide is permitted and applied according to the rules.

According to local residents, this can apply to each separate substance, but they fear exactly what the mix of all that poison does: “The effect of the sum of so many substances with such frequent use is as yet unknown. This is also recognized in studies.” They also point out that the field with the lily bulbs is not only close to their gardens, but also a short distance from the Deurnese Peel nature reserve.

Lice and fungi
The fact that there are dangers due to the large use of poison also distracts local residents from the fact that the province does not even allow lily bulb cultivation on their land. In Deurne, the province intervened in September because lily bulbs were illegally grown on provincial land. The province of Noord-Brabant also indicated at the time that the cultivation of lilies on the basis of the province is prohibited in any case because it concerns an intensive cultivation in which poison is sprayed weekly against aphids and fungi.

‘Stay inside’
According to the concerned families in Neerkant, calling in the Environmental Service because of the use of poison is of no use: “In the advice of 2014, residents are recommended on the day of spraying: close windows and doors, stay indoors and do not stay in the garden. ; to keep (domestic) animals indoors; to bring in drinking water for animals; leave shoes at the door so as not to drag in poison; do not let children play outside on the lawn.”

The letter to the municipality also includes various studies from various authorities, including RIVM and the Health Council. According to the residents living in the vicinity of the lily fields, this shows that the used poisons contain substances that have an effect on physical functioning and lung function. They are also said to be carcinogenic and possibly cause Parkinson’s disease. “Even if you live healthy and eat organically, in addition to a bulb field you will receive an enormous amount of substances in your environment without being asked: in the garden, on the grass, on garden furniture and toys. And in your body,” the families say.

A lot of poison
Their concern is great because, according to them, the government and RIVM are now aware that residents and their living environment are exposed to an enormous amount of poison: “But research has yet to be carried out into the health effects for humans and animals. And unfortunately this research is still pending”, say the families in Neerkant.

Local residents have already had several discussions about the use of poison with authorities such as the province, the water board, working group Conservation de Peel and environmental defence. With the letter to the municipality, they now hope that the council and B&W van Deurne will intervene: “Because the municipality has the task of protecting citizens. And we now completely miss that protection, because spraying is done every week – every 7 days – from early spring to the end of October.”

Also read: Province puts an end to illegal lily cultivation in Deurne; ‘We don’t allow this kind of wild west practices’

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