Study: „Double Standards and Hazardous Pesticides from Bayer and BASF“

In this study, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, the INKOTA network and PAN Germany show that Bayer and BASF are responsible for the marketing and, in some cases, the development of at least 33 pesticide active substances that pose an acute threat to human health. Many of these active substances are already lethal at low doses, others are considered probably carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction.

Estudio: „Los dobles estándares respecto a los agrotóxicos de Bayer y BASF“

En este estudio, la Fundación Rosa Luxemburg, la red INKOTA y PAN Germany demuestran que Bayer y BASF son responsables de la comercialización y, en algunos casos, del desarrollo de al menos 33 ingredientes activos de plaguicidas que suponen una grave amenaza para la salud humana. Muchas de estas sustancias activas ya son letales a bajas dosis, otras se consideran probablemente cancerígenas, mutagénicas o tóxicas para la reproducción.

Estudo: „Agrotóxicos da Bayer e BASF: dois pesos e duas medidas“

Neste estudo, a Fundação Rosa Luxemburg, INKOTA e a PAN Germany apontam que a Bayer e a BASF são responsáveis pela comercialização e, em alguns casos, pelo desenvolvimento de pelo menos 33 ingredientes ativos de pesticidas que representam uma ameaça aguda para a saúde humana. Muitas destas substâncias ativas são letais mesmo em doses baixas, outras são consideradas provavelmente cancerígenas, mutagénicas ou tóxicas para a reprodução.


Breve información sobre los PAP y la doble moral en el comercio de plaguicidas

La nota informativa ofrece información sobre qué son los plaguicidas altamente peligrosos (PAP) y por qué son un problema en todo el mundo. También describe el problema de la doble moral existente en el comercio de plaguicidas, que permite exportar plaguicidas prohibidos en la UE, y pide que se prohíba legalmente esta práctica comercial.

Brief summary on HHPs and double standards in trade of pesticides

The brief summary provides information on what highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) are and why they pose a problem worldwide. It also describes the problem of existing double standards in the trade of pesticides (pesticides banned in the EU to be exported) and calls for a legal ban on this trade practice.

Revealed: EU Glyphosate assessment was based on flawed science

[3. July 2021] A new scientific analysis (1) concludes that the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) claim that glyphosate is not genotoxic cannot be justified on the basis of manufacturers’ studies. Of the 53 industry-funded studies used for the EU’s current authorization of glyphosate, 34 were identified as „not reliable“, 17 as „partly reliable“ and only 2 studies as „reliable“ from a methodological point of view.

Several civil society organizations from the successful European Citizen Initiative (ECI) „Stop Glyphosate“ (2) are calling on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to take into account these new findings in the new authorization procedure of glyphosate, which are very worrying from an environmental and health point of view (3).

Genotoxicity studies indicate the risk of cancer and reproductive damage posed by a chemical. Public authorities that were involved in the previous European authorization procedure – namely the German Health Authority BfR and EFSA – wrongfully accepted these industry studies as key evidence of the absence of glyphosate genotoxicity. EFSA used this flawed science as a basis to contradict the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)’s 2015 conclusion that glyphosate does in fact “probably cause cancer”.

The current approval of glyphosate on the EU market is expiring on 15 December 2022. A first screening of industry’s 2020 new glyphosate application dossier shows that 38 of the 53 genotoxicity studies on “pure” glyphosate submitted in the previous assessment have been submitted once more to the EU authorities by Bayer Agriculture BV, on behalf of the Glyphosate Renewal Group.

Angeliki Lyssimachou, Environmental Scientist at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said: “This new scientific analysis shows yet again that the European Union’s claim to having the most rigorous pesticide authorization procedure in the world has to be taken with a heavy grain of salt. The authorization procedure in place is evidently not rigorous enough to detect errors in the execution of the regulatory studies that are blindly considered the gold standard. Yet these were at the heart of the 2017 EU-market approval of glyphosate, and they have now been submitted again in an effort to water down scientific evidence that glyphosate may cause cancer and is a danger to human health.”

Helmut Burtscher, Biochemist at GLOBAL 2000 said: “If you subtract from the 53 genotoxicity studies, those studies that are not reliable and those studies that are of minor importance for the assessment of genotoxicity in humans, then nothing remains. Nothing, except the question on what basis the EU authorities have claimed that glyphosate is ’not genotoxic‘. Did they have a crystal ball?”

Peter Clausing, Toxicologist at Pesticide Action Network Germany (PAN Germany) said:  “A rigorous authorization procedure is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to protect the health of the people and the environment. In 2017 the authorities of the European Union violated their own rules to ensure an outcome that pleased the chemical industry. Not much is achieved, if rules and recommendations are on paper, but not applied.”

Nina Holland, Researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory said: „The last re-approval process of glyphosate caused huge controversies, as Monsanto was shown to be undermining the science regarding the harmful effects of glyphosate. This new scientific review puts once more a finger on a sore spot: that national regulators and EU authorities alike do not seem to pay close scrutiny when looking at the quality of industry’s own studies. This is shocking as it is their job to protect people’s health and the environment, not serve the interests of the pesticide industry.“

Eoin Dubsky, Campaigner at SumOfUs said: “People are sick of glyphosate, and we’re sick of being lied to. That’s why SumOfUs members funded this important analysis, and why we’ll keep campaigning until this herbicide is banned. How could EFSA give glyphosate a thumbs-up based on such shoddy scientific studies, when IARC warned that it’s genotoxic, and probably cancer-causing too?”


You can find the scientific study here

You can find a Q&A on the study here

You can find a short backgrounder on what happened so far in the glyphosate dossier here


For more information and interview requests:

Helmut Burtscher, Biochemist at GLOBAL 2000: helmut@global2000.at and +43 69914200034

Angeliki Lyssimachou, Environmental Scientist at Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL): angeliki@env-health.org and +32 496 392930

Nina Holland, Researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO): nina@corporateeurope.org and +32  466294420

Peter Clausing, Toxicologist at Pesticide Action Network Germany (PAN Germany): peter.clausing@pan-germany.org and  +49 176 4379 5932.

Eoin Dubsky, Campaigner at SumOfUs: eoin@sumofus.org and +31 641636410


Notes to the editor:

(1) The scientific analysis was conducted by Armen Nersesyan and Prof. Siegfried Knasmueller, two renowned experts on genotoxicity testing, from the Institute of Cancer Research at the Department of Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna. No less than 34 out of 53 industry-funded genotoxicity studies used for the EU’s current authorization of glyphosate were identified by the scientists as „not reliable“, because of substantial deviations from OECD Test Guideline, which can be expected to impair the sensitivity and accuracy of the test system. As for the rest of the 53 studies, 17 were „partly reliable“ and only 2 studies „reliable“.

(2) Stop Glyphosate – European Citizens‘ Initiative to Ban Glyphosate

(3) The European Commission and member states are gearing up to review the current approval of glyphosate, which expires on 15 December 2022. The industry has started the process to renew it. The assessment of the application for EU renewal of glyphosate was performed by the AGG, consisting of the authorities for the assessment of active ingredients of France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden (the last assessment procedure was handled by Germany alone). The assessment was sent to EFSA on 15 June and was based on a dossier submitted last summer by the applicants, the Glyphosate Renewal Group (GRG). See: pesticides_aas_agg_report_202106.pdf (europa.eu)

Glyphosate is the most widely-used pesticide in the world. Exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides has been linked to certain types of cancer, as well as to adverse effects on the development and hormonal system.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate „probably causes cancer“. Yet in 2017, glyphosate was reauthorised on the European market until December 2022 by representatives of European governments. This decision was criticised heavily by civil society groups and scientists alike for lacking transparency and scientific objectivity, being predominantly based on industry-sponsored studies and overlooking findings from academic independent literature.

Back in 2015 – 2017 civil society and members of the European Parliament managed to reduce the glyphosate authorization in the European Union from 15 years to 5 years. More importantly, the campaign raised awareness on the toxicity of glyphosate-based products, the major problems underlying the pesticide authorization system and how there are alternatives to glyphosate in agriculture.

In March 2019 four Green Members of the European Parliament got a positive ruling from the ECJ (https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/press/ecj-ruling-a-victory-in-the-fight-for-health-transparency-and-the-environment ) stating EFSA should publish all (secret) studies around the cancer risks of glyphosate. NGO SumOfUs requested 54 genotoxicity studies from EFSA and started a crowd funding action to be able to pay independent scientists to screen these studies.

Invitation: Online launch event and discussion of a new study

Double Standards and Hazardous Pesticides from Bayer and BASF
A glimpse behind the scenes of the international trade in pesticide active ingredients

Presentation of the study and discussion with
Peter Clausing (PAN Germany), Wiebke Beushausen (INKOTA-netzwerk, Germany), Colette Solomon (Women on Farms, South Africa), and Irma Gómez (Alianza Maya por las Abejas, Mexico), Moderation: Jan Urhahn (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Southern Africa)

When: Tuesday, 27 April 2021, 18:30 to 20:00 (CEST)

Where and how: The event will take place as an online discussion via Zoom providing simultaneous interpretation (English / German).

Registration: https://inkota-de.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BSHBOtBIS0Gw-clRP2fh7w

The agrochemical companies Bayer and BASF continue to market pesticides and active ingredients in the Global South that are not approved or even banned in the EU due to the risks they pose to the environment or human health. Such business practices are legal, but increasingly criticized as double standards.

The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, the INKOTA-netzwerk, and PAN Germany have taken a glimpse behind the scenes of the international trade in pesticide active ingredients, focusing on the two German agrochemical giants, Bayer and BASF. The new study sheds light on the use of Bayer and BASF active ingredients in Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, and the harm these chemicals bring with them.

The list of active ingredients highly hazardous to human health that have found their way around the world through Bayer and BASF is long. Terms like glufosinate, spirodiclofen, and (beta-)cyfluthrin conceal concrete hazards: they are highly toxic, probably carcinogenic or mutagenic.

The study reveals which highly hazardous active ingredients were developed and/or marketed by these two German agrochemical corporations. They are still marketed by them in some cases even today, albeit sometimes in a hidden manner. This in-depth analysis of the pesticides and active ingredients markets in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico reveals the extent and non-transparency of the lucrative business with hazardous pesticides. This contrasts with the devastating effects of pesticide use on the health of indigenous people and farmworkers in the three countries.

The authors and activists will present the results of the study and discuss further questions in an open format.

A joint event by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, the INKOTA-netzwerk, and PAN Germany.

New study reveals dramatic rise in global pesticide poisonings

Worldwide poisonings up from 25 million in 1990 to 385 million today

For immediate release: December 9, 2020

In a comprehensive study, scientists report that pesticide poisonings on farms around the world have risen dramatically since the last global assessment 30 years ago. Based on an evaluation of available poisoning data from countries all over the world, the researchers conclude that there are about 385 million cases of acute poisonings each year, up from an estimated 25 million cases in 1990.

This means that about 44% of the global population working on farms — 860 million farmers and agricultural workers – are poisoned every year.

The systematic review of unintentional acute pesticide poisonings was published today in the peer-reviewed  journal BMC Public Health. The article, entitled “The global distribution of acute unintentional pesticide poisoning: Estimations based on a systematic review,” is the first such global estimate since 1990.

“These findings underscore the urgency of reducing and eliminating the use of highly hazardous pesticides,” says Kristin Schafer, coordinator of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International. “These pesticides are causing the unacceptable poisoning of those who produce our food, but also chronic health effects such as cancer and ecological impacts such as the collapse of biodiversity. Time for global action is long overdue.”

The study found that the greatest number of non-fatal poisoning cases was in southern Asia, followed by Southeast Asia and East Africa. The highest single national incidence was in Burkina Faso, where nearly 84% of farmers and farm workers experience unintentional acute pesticide poisonings annually.

Total fatalities around the world from unintended pesticide poisonings are estimated at around 11,000 deaths per year. Nearly 60% of which occur in just one country, India, indicating serious problems with pesticide use, according to the researchers.

“Pesticide poisonings are a public health crisis that must be addressed,” said Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of PAN Asia Pacific. “Beyond the immediate suffering, poisonings can also reflect exposure that cause long term, chronic health effects. It’s shocking and shameful that this problem has gotten worse rather than better over the past 30 years.”

The authors of the new study conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature published between 2006 and 2018, selecting a total of 157 papers after assessing over 800 papers for eligibility according to set criteria, and additional data from the WHO cause-of-death database. The data covered 141 countries in total. Most studies focused on occupational poisonings, particularly of farmers and agricultural workers.

“We realize there are limitations in the data on pesticide poisonings,” notes Javier Souza, PAN Latin America’s coordinator. “But this study clearly shows this as a serious, global problem that warrants immediate action. Highly hazardous pesticides must be phased out by 2030 to meet global Sustainable Development Goals, and we must shift to healthier and more resilient systems like agroecology. ”

The estimated number of global nonfatal unintended pesticide poisonings in the current study is significantly greater than previous estimates. This is in part because the current study covers a greater number of countries, and also because there has been an 81% increase in pesticide use since 1990 (an estimated 4.1 million tonnes of pesticides were used worldwide in 2017). The researchers point to underreporting to explain the relatively low estimates of fatalities. Underreporting is also an issue for pesticide poisonings overall, as many country-specific reporting systems lack a central reporting point or lack a legal mechanism requiring incident reporting.

The authors conclude that the heavy burden of non-fatal unintended pesticide poisonings, particularly for farmers and farmworkers, brings into focus the current policy bias towards focusing only on fatalities, and the need to more seriously address the overall pesticide poisoning problem in international and national policies and regulations.

Note to reporters: While this study did not cover pesticide poisoning suicides, an estimated 14 million people have died from suicide using pesticides since the Green Revolution in the 1960s. A recent systematic review of data on suicides from 2006-2015, which this review did not cover, found that pesticides accounted for 14-20% of global suicides leading to 110,000-168,000 deaths annually during the period 2010-2014.


Media contacts:

Available for interviews:

  • Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific – Sarojeni.rengam@panap.net
  • Susan Haffmans, PAN Germany – Susan.haffmans@pan-germany.org
  • Javier Souza, PAN Latin America (Spanish) – javierrapal@yahoo.com.ar
  • Maimouna Diene, PAN Africa (French) – maimounadiene@pan-afrique.org

 Pesticide Action Network International (PAN) is a network of over 600 participating nongovernmental organizations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. PAN was founded in 1982 and has five independent, collaborating Regional Centers that implement its projects and campaigns. You can find more information at http://pan-international.org.

PAN International Webinar „Plaguicidas altamente peligrosos (HHPs) – un desafió global“

Invitación: Webinar PLAGUICIDAS ALTAMENTE PELIGROSOS (HHPS) – UN DESAFÍO GLOBAL. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International 15 de DICIEMBRE 2020 12h00 – 13h30 CET (UTC + 1).

En este seminario web, podrá profundizar su comprensión de los pesticidas altamente peligrosos (HHPs). Obtendrá una descripción general de sus características y una idea de sus implicaciones para los derechos humanos, la salud humana y el medio ambiente. Podrá también aprender acerca de las opciones políticas para la eliminación de los HHPs. Únase a nosotros para aprender de los expertos involucrados, hacer sus preguntas y compartir sus comentarios. Para obtener más información, consulte el programa.


PAN International Webinaire „Pesticides extrêmement dangereux (HHPs) – un défi mondial“

Invitation: Webinaire PESTICIDES EXTRÊMEMENT DANGEREUX (HHPS) – UN DÉFI MONDIAL, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International 15 décembre 2020 12h00 – 13h30 CET (UTC + 1).

Dans ce webinaire, vous pourrez approfondir votre compréhension des pesticides extrêmement dangereux (HHP). Vous aurez une vue d’ensemble sur leurs caractéristiques et un aperçu de leurs implications pour les droits de l’homme, la santé humaine et l’environnement. Vous pourrez également apprendre quelles sont les options politiques pour l’élimination des HHP. Veuillez nous joindre pour apprendre des experts impliqués, poser vos questions et partager vos commentaires. Pour plus d’information, veuillez consulter le programme.