Dr Jonathan Kerr's gene expression research higlighted one gene expression linked to organophosphates; it was similar to that found in GWS. The Daily Mail 09/08/06 - Health section "Breathing pesticides 'can trigger MS and Parkinson's disease" by SEAN POULTER Pesticides can cause brain damage and trigger conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, according to scientists. A landmark study claims that chemicals routinely used by farmers in the UK and around the world can result in neurological diseases. The controversial findings will be challenged by the agro-chemical industry, which insists exposure levels for humans are well within safety limits. Many scientists say there are huge gaps in our knowledge about the impact of pesticides on public health. Earlier this year, a Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution inquiry called for a five-metre buffer zone around crop fields to prevent farmers from spraying pesticides. The commission said this was a necessary precaution until more was known about the effects of chemicals. But Environment Secretary David Miliband rejected the measure, claiming there were no proven scientific reasons for implementing it. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was up to individual farmers voluntarily to impose a spray-free zone. The latest research into the impact of pesticides on health was carried out by the Energy & Environmental Research Centre at the University of North Dakota. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health, laboratory tests on rats revealed damage to the brain and to the gastro- intestinal system. The research team is now evaluating how humans are exposed to pesticides in order to establish what measures are needed to minimise any adverse effects. It is concentrating on the effect of pesticide spraying, rather than consumption of fruit and vegetables. An EERC statement said: 'During the first year of research, laboratory testing on rats demonstrated that the areas of the brain showing change following pesticide exposure are the same areas involved in multiple sclerosis. 'Results also show pesticide exposure damages the same brain areas linked to epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. Pesticides can also cause severe damage to the gastrointestinal system and cause neurological dysfunction.' Director Dr Gerald Groenewold said: 'The results of this study are phenomenally relevant to our region and have global implications.' He added: 'One of the most efficient routes that people are exposed to pesticides is through airborne particles, including pesticides carried on tiny bits of pollen. Within the next few years, this EERC-led partnership will be able to provide objective answers to globally critical questions related to the potential relationship between pesticides and the incidence of neurological diseases.' Research by a team from Harvard School of Public Health in June reached similar findings. It found that respondents who were in contact with pesticides in 1992 were 70 per cent more likely to develop Parkinson's within the next ten years. Georgina Downs, of UK Pesticides Campaign, accused the Government of putting the interests of agro-chemical manufacturers ahead of public safety. 'The preliminary findings of this new research are of great concern, especially to babies and children who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticide exposure,' she said. 'We have been highlighting for years the significance of exposure to airborne pesticides. 'There has never been an adequate exposure assessment in the UK or the EU for the long-term exposure of people who live near regularly sprayed fields.' The British Crop Protection Association and its U.S. counterpart, CropLife America, said any evidence of a link to Parkinson's disease was 'conflicting and inconsistent'. It said the condition was first diagnosed in 1817, which is well before pesticides were invented. 'We think the results of this study are preliminary at best,' said CropLife. 'They have seen effects in rats. We don't think they have any data that would link disease (effects) to humans.'