Partial victory

Published: Saturday 31 July 2004

A curious court action in the UK gave environmentalist group Friends of the Earth (FoE) the right to tell people where to look for information on some pesticides, but not to offer the data on its own.

The dispute involves FoE and chemical manufacturer Bayer. In 2000, the former asked the Pesticides Safety Directorate of the UK government to release information on some chemicals, including glufosinate ammonium. Bayer launched legal proceedings to stop the government from divulging the details. In May 2003, Bayer and FoE reached a settlement and the latter obtained "read only" access to the information.

But FoE had already got the data from Swedish and Danish agencies. Bayer again applied for an injunction against FoE in October 2003. The proceedings have now been dropped, but FoE still cannot place the information on its website. "We are calling for a change so that regulators publish more information about pesticides," said Phil Michaels of FoE.

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