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.




Une nouvelle étude révèle une hausse spectaculaire des empoisonnements aux pesticides

Les empoisonnements dans le monde sont passés de 25 millions en 1990 à 385 millions aujourd’hui

Pour diffusion immédiate : 9 Décembre 2020

Dans une étude exhaustive publiée aujourd’hui, des scientifiques signalent que les empoisonnements aux pesticides dans les exploitations agricoles du monde entier ont augmenté de façon spectaculaire depuis la dernière évaluation mondiale, il y a 30 ans. Sur la base d’une évaluation des données disponibles sur les empoisonnements dans les pays du monde entier, les chercheurs concluent qu’il y a environ 385 millions de cas d’empoisonnements aigus chaque année, contre 25 millions de cas estimés en 1990.

Cela signifie qu’environ 44 % de la population mondiale travaillant dans des exploitations agricoles – soit 860 millions d’agriculteurs et de travailleurs agricoles – sont empoisonnés chaque année.

L’étude systématique des empoisonnements aigus involontaires par les pesticides a été publiée aujourd’hui dans la revue à comité de lecture BMC Public Health. L’article, intitulé „The global distribution of acute unintentional pesticide poisoning : Estimations based on a systematic review“ (La répartition mondiale des intoxications aiguës par les pesticides : Estimations basées sur une revue systématique), est la première estimation mondiale de ce type depuis 1990.

« Ces résultats soulignent l’urgence de réduire et d’éliminer l’utilisation des pesticides très dangereux », déclare Kristin Schafer, coordinatrice de Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International. « Ces pesticides provoquent l’empoisonnement inacceptable de ceux qui produisent notre alimentation, mais aussi des effets chroniques sur la santé, tels que des cancers, et des impacts écologiques, comme l’effondrement de la biodiversité. Il est grand temps d’agir au niveau mondial ».

L’étude a montré que le plus grand nombre de cas d’empoisonnement non mortels se situait en Asie du Sud, suivie de l’Asie du Sud-Est et de l’Afrique de l’Est. L’incidence nationale la plus élevée a été enregistrée au Burkina Faso, où près de 84 % des agriculteurs et des ouvriers agricoles sont victimes chaque année d’empoisonnements aigus non intentionnels aux pesticides.

On estime à environ 11.000 le nombre total de décès dans le monde dus à des empoisonnements involontaires par les pesticides chaque année. Près de 60 % de ces décès surviennent dans un seul pays, l’Inde, ce qui indique de graves problèmes liés à l’utilisation des pesticides, selon les chercheurs.

« Les empoisonnements aux pesticides sont une crise de santé publique qui doit être traitée », a déclaré Sarojeni Rengam, directrice exécutive de PAN Asia Pacific. « Au-delà de la souffrance immédiate, les empoisonnements peuvent aussi refléter une exposition qui cause des effets chroniques à long terme sur la santé. Il est choquant et honteux que ce problème se soit aggravé au lieu de s’améliorer au cours des 30 dernières années ».

Les auteurs de la nouvelle étude ont procédé à un examen systématique de la littérature scientifique publiée entre 2006 et 2018, en sélectionnant un total de 157 articles, après en avoir évalué plus de 800 pour déterminer leur admissibilité selon des critères établis, ainsi que des données supplémentaires provenant de la base de données de l’OMS sur les causes de décès. Les données ont couvert 141 pays au total. La plupart des études se sont concentrées sur les empoisonnements professionnels, en particulier chez les agriculteurs et les travailleurs agricoles.

« Nous sommes conscients des limites des données sur les empoisonnements par les pesticides », note Javier Souza, coordinateur de PAN Amérique latine. « Mais cette étude montre clairement qu’il s’agit d’un problème grave et mondial qui justifie une action immédiate. Les pesticides hautement dangereux doivent être éliminés progressivement d’ici 2030 pour atteindre les objectifs mondiaux de développement durable, et nous devons nous tourner vers des systèmes plus sains et plus résilients, comme l’agroécologie. »

L’estimation du nombre d’empoisonnements non intentionnels non mortels par les pesticides dans le monde est sensiblement plus élevée dans cette nouvelle étude que les estimations précédentes. Cela s’explique en partie par le fait que l’étude actuelle couvre un plus grand nombre de pays, mais aussi par le fait que l’utilisation des pesticides a augmenté de 81 % depuis 1990 (on estime que 4,1 millions de tonnes de pesticides ont été utilisées dans le monde en 2017). Les estimations relativement faibles du nombre de décès sont dues, selon les chercheurs, à leur sous-déclaration. La sous-déclaration est également un problème pour les empoisonnements aux pesticides en général, car de nombreux systèmes de déclaration, spécifiques à chaque pays, ne disposent pas d’un point central de déclaration ou d’un mécanisme juridique exigeant la déclaration des incidents.

Les auteurs concluent que le lourd tribut que représentent les empoisonnements non mortels non intentionnels par les pesticides, en particulier pour les agriculteurs et les travailleurs agricoles, met en évidence la tendance des politiques actuelles à ne se concentrer que sur les décès, et la nécessité de s’attaquer plus sérieusement au problème global des empoisonnements par les pesticides dans les politiques et réglementations internationales et nationales.

Note aux journalistes : Bien que cette étude ne couvre pas les suicides par empoisonnement aux pesticides, on estime que 14 millions de personnes sont mortes par suicide en utilisant des pesticides depuis la révolution verte des années 1960. Un récent examen systématique des données sur les suicides de 2006 à 2015, que cette étude n’a pas couverts, a révélé que les pesticides représentaient 14 à 20 % des suicides dans le monde, entraînant 110.000 à 168.000 décès par an au cours de la période 2010-2014.

*****

Contacts presse:

Disponible pour interviews:

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

 Pesticide Action Network International (PAN) est un réseau de plus de 600 organisations non gouvernementales, institutions et individus dans plus de 90 pays, qui travaillent à remplacer l’utilisation de pesticides dangereux par des alternatives écologiquement saines et socialement justes. Le PAN a été fondé en 1982 et compte cinq centres régionaux indépendants qui collaborent à la mise en œuvre de ses projets et campagnes. Vous pouvez trouver plus d’informations à l’adresse suivante http://pan-international.org.




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.




Global Outrage at FAO Plans to Partner with Pesticide Industry

Hundreds of civil society and Indigenous Peoples organizations call on the UN agency to renounce planned alliance with CropLife International

Rome – Today 350 organizations in 63 countries representing hundreds of thousands of farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and other communities, as well as human rights, faith-based, environmental and economic justice institutions, delivered a letter to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Qu Dongyu urging him to stop recently-announced plans to deepen collaboration with CropLife International by entering into a formal partnership.

CropLife is a global trade association representing the interests of companies that produce and promote pesticides, including highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). According to the letter, HHPs “are responsible for a wide range of devastating health harms to farmers, agricultural workers and rural families around the world,” and these chemicals have “decimated pollinator populations and are wreaking havoc on biodiversity and fragile ecosystems” as well.

“This proposed alliance is deeply inappropriate and directly undermines FAO’s goals of supporting food systems that are healthy, resilient and productive while safeguarding the sustainability of the environment,” says Sarojeni Rengam, Director of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia Pacific. “CropLife’s purpose, on the other hand, is to advocate for continued use of the pesticides that its members sell. These hazardous and antiquated chemical solutions pose deadly obstacles to the urgently needed transition to innovative, knowledge-intensive ecological approaches to farming.”

Ms. Rengam delivered the letter today on behalf of PAN International, ten other co-sponsoring organizations and networks, and hundreds of signatories.

The letter highlights a recent analysis of industry records that documents that CropLife member companies BASF, Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience, FMC and Syngenta make more than one-third of their sales income from highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) — the pesticides that are most harmful to human health and the environment. The proportion of HHP sales is even higher in developing countries, the letter says, where safety regulations are often less robust and harms to human health and the environment are greater.

“So many of our Yaqui children have died and suffered lifelong disabilities from exposure to toxic pesticides that were banned by the countries that exported them to be used in our territories,” said Mariano Ochoa Millan, former Board member for the International Indian Treaty Council from Rio Yaqui Sonora, Mexico. Millan, who passed away from COVID-19 on August 31, made this statement in response to the July 9, 2020 statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics calling on wealthy nations to halt the practice of exporting banned pesticides. Many of CropLife’s member companies are strong proponents of this practice.

Today’s letter was co-sponsored by a broad-based group of global networks and international organizations: Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), FIAN International, Friends of the Earth International, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers‘ Associations (IUF), Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International, Public Eye and Third World Network.

Marcia Ishii, senior scientist at PAN North America, explained the serious implications of the proposed collaboration: “FAO’s decision to initiate a formal partnership with CropLife is bad news for the millions of farmers whose health and livelihoods have been devastated by the highly hazardous pesticides manufactured by CropLife member companies. Unfortunately, since Mr. Qu’s arrival at FAO, the institution appears to be opening up to deeper collaboration with pesticide companies, which are likely to exploit such a relationship for bluewashing, influencing policy development, and enhancing access to global markets. It is no surprise that FAO’s recently appointed Deputy Director General, Beth Bechdol, comes to FAO with a history of close financial ties to Corteva (formerly Dow/DuPont), a Croplife member headquartered in Bechdol’s home state of Indiana, USA.”

An international group of 286 scientists and researchers have also expressed concern about the proposed alliance, delivering a letter to Director-General Qu Dongyu today, urging him not to pursue a formalization of FAO’s collaboration with CropLife.

***

Resources:

Joint letter with full list of signatories (also available here as pdf)

PAN International list of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs)

Public Eye pesticide industry analysis

IAASTD report, 10 years later

FAO’s proposed formalization of partnership with CropLife 

Additional quotes from co-sponsoring partners:

Shiney Varghese, senior policy analyst with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, notes that while FAO says it wants to minimize the harms of pesticides worldwide, CropLife members made more than a third of their income from sales of highly hazardous pesticides in 2018. “In the context of this proposed FAO-CropLife partnership, what is even more important is that many of those sales were made to farmers in low- and middle-income countries like Brazil, India and Thailand, while only 27 percent were made in high income countries. It’s not surprising that CropLife International would want to have a partnership, but why would FAO want to put these low- and middle-income countries at risk?”

„We need a strong FAO, independent of the pesticide industry and free from the market interests of global corporations, committed to safe, healthy food and sustainable farming systems for the benefit of all people,” says Susan Haffmans from PAN Germany. “With its commitment to agroecology, FAO has embarked on this sustainable path. The FAO should not jeopardize its successes in agroecology nor its integrity by cooperating with precisely that branch of industry which is responsible for the production of highly hazardous pesticides and whose products contribute to poisoning people and their environment worldwide.“

“In Latin America, we need policies that support the phasing out Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) and scaling up of agroecology. The proposed partnership between FAO and CropLife would undermine this aim,“ said Fernando Bejarano,  Hub coordinator for the IPEN Latin America Office who supervised several HHPs country situation reports in the region.




Die EU muss endlich umweltverschmutzende Pharmazeutika-Hersteller in die Pflicht nehmen

Anlässlich der Verabschiedung einer Resolution über Arzneimittel in der Umwelt am Donnerstag, den 17. September 2020 im Europäischen Parlaments, fordern zahlreiche europäische Organisationen, darunter Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe , European Environment Bureau (EEB) und PAN Germany in einer gemeinsamen Presseerklärung ein entschiedenes Handeln der EU gegen Umweltverschmutzungen durch Arzneimittel und machen insbesondere auf die Verbreitung von Antibiotika-Resistenzen über die Umwelt aufmerksam.

Insbesondere in der Nähe von Arzneimittelherstellungsanlagen ist die Belastung von Oberflächen- und Grundwassersystemen mit Arzneimittelrückständen groß. Dies kann schwerwiegende Auswirkungen auf die Gesundheit und die Lebensgrundlagen der Menschen haben, darunter Hautkrankheiten, Fischsterben und vergiftetes Vieh.

Trotz der alarmierenden und bekannten Risiken macht die EU bislang keine Umweltauflagen für die Herstellung von Medikamenten, die auf dem europäischen Markt verkauft werden. Dies muss sich aus Sicht der NGOs ändern.

Hier geht es zur gemeinsamen englischsprachigen Presseerklärung.




UN Press Release: States must stop exporting unwanted toxic chemicals to poorer countries, says UN expert

GENEVA (9. July 2020) – The practice of wealthy States exporting their banned toxic chemicals to poorer nations lacking the capacity to control the risks is deplorable and must end, a UN expert said today, with the endorsement of 35 fellow experts of the Human Rights Council.




New academic paper condemns pesticide risk assessment practices ahead of Farm to Fork Strategy and REFIT

„Green recovery“ from COVID-19 crisis demands healthy and sustainable food system

Press release from Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, Brussels, Belgium, 20 April 2020.

Contact in the first instance:
Dr Angeliki Lyssimachou, PAN Europe +32 496392930; angeliki@pan-europe.info

A new peer-reviewed paper authored by a group of experts in law, policy, and toxicology has identified systemic failings in Europe’s pesticide risk assessment process.

The experts have proposed a comprehensive agenda for far-reaching reform after their paper outlined how these failings could seriously undermine ambitions for sustainable agriculture and a “green recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calls for such a “green recovery” have arisen from 13 European climate and environment ministers, from 180 policy makers, business leaders, researchers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and from WWF. On 16 April, Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, added his voice, demanding an end to old, polluting models of production and a shift to a “circular, sustainable and highly competitive economy”.

These thought leaders agree that business as usual is not an option.

Regulatory failings

According to the new paper, published in the European Journal of Risk Regulation, Europe is consistently failing to implement and enforce its own regulations on pesticides. While the EU’s pesticides Regulation 1107/2009 is, in theory, one of the most stringent in the world, it has yet to achieve its aim of “an independent, objective and transparent assessment of pesticides and achieve a high level of protection for health and environment”. The paper presents a series of recommendations to resolve these problems.

Focusing on glyphosate as a case study of scientific and regulatory controversy, the paper highlights:

  • Widespread misuse and misinterpretation of scientific research, with cherry-picking of favorable studies, plagiarism and uncritical repetition of findings presented as independent validation, and misuse of statistical and analytical tools
  • Ongoing failure to address mixture effects, including of additives which, even though they can change the toxicity profile of the active ingredient, are not part of the pesticide approval process
  • Failure to properly address conflicts of interest within regulatory agencies, undermining the independence and objectivity of pesticide assessments.

As a result of these failings, multiple pesticides are passing through the regulatory process and being authorized in spite of their potential to harm human and animal health and the environment.

Proposed solutions

The authors find that for the most part, the law itself is not at fault. Instead, the problem lies with a failure on the part of regulatory bodies to implement or enforce the hard or „soft“ laws governing how pesticides are regulated.

The authors propose ways to improve the system, requiring changes in the way in which regulators carry out the risk assessment process, as well as in the way that current scientific knowledge and scientific analytical tools are applied.

These include:

  • Wider use of “systematic review” methods to ensure objectivity and transparency in evaluating scientific research results
  • Proper use of the “weight-of-evidence” approach to integrate different lines of evidence, so that, for example, different types of evidence indicating that a pesticide is carcinogenic are not evaluated and dismissed separately but are considered together in an integrated fashion
  • Evaluating the toxicity of pesticide formulations as sold and used rather than just the isolated “active” ingredients that are tested and assessed for safety in regulatory purposes – since the formulations can be far more toxic

Details of the new paper

Achieving a High Level of Protection from Pesticides in Europe: Problems with the Current Risk Assessment Procedure and Solutions

Claire ROBINSON, Christopher J. PORTIER, Aleksandra ČAVOŠKI, Robin MESNAGE, Apolline ROGER, Peter CLAUSING, Paul WHALEY, Hans MUILERMAN and Angeliki LYSSIMACHOU

DOI: European Journal of Risk Regulation, 16 April 2020

The new paper is published as the EU Commission prepares to publish its Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy as part of the European Green Deal. F2F aims to „secure a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system“ and will include „measures to significantly reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides“.

As well as the F2F, the Commission will publish its long overdue REFIT evaluation of the EU pesticide legislation assessing “if the regulations meet the needs of citizens, businesses and public institutions in an efficient manner“ and giving recommendations on future actions. Concerns have been raised that REFIT appears to be focused on making EU regulations „better“ for industry and that the pesticides regulations will be deliberately weakened as a result.

The publication of F2F as well as the REFIT of the pesticide Regulation has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, and the farmers‘ association COPA-COGECA has lobbied for the publication to be delayed until autumn – or for an impact assessment to be carried out first.

But Claire Robinson, editor at GMWatch and first author of the new paper commented, „COVID-19 has shown us that human health must be the priority and that sustainable food production is crucial. We cannot afford more delays in implementing a healthy, sustainable, and resilient food system.“

This call is backed by an open letter signed by 40 NGOs, asking the Commission not to further delay the F2F publication and “to show that it is actively steering the EU towards a greener future, of which sustainable and resilient food systems are an essential part”.

 

Quotes from the authors

Dr Apolline Roger, Law and Policy Advisor, ClientEarth, Brussels, Belgium, said: „The pesticides Regulation has great elements. For the most part, it is not the law that needs to be reformed, but the way it is implemented. We detail the reforms that are needed in our recommendations.“

Prof Christopher Portier, Senior Contributing Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, and former Director, US National Center for Environmental Health, USA, said: “Scientific rigour and complete transparency are critical to both the evaluation of data used in regulatory decision making and to the trust the public will have in those evaluations. This article describes improvements that will strengthen both scientific rigor and transparency.”

Paul Whaley, an academic at Lancaster University in the UK specializing in novel methods for evaluating health risks from chemical exposures, said: “The European Food Safety Authority has been a world-leading agency in proposing reforms to how scientific research is used in pesticide risk assessment, particularly in applying systematic review methods to analyze evidence of potential health risks. The problem is, these reforms are being implemented too slowly and too unevenly, leaving too many chemicals being assessed with methods which are obsolete, opaque, and produce unreliable results.”

Dr Peter Clausing, toxicologist at the Pesticide Action Network Germany, said: „The ‚weight-of-evidence‘ approach is an important concept to consolidate scientific data. Our paper shows that there is considerable room for improvement in the way the European authorities make use of this concept during risk assessment of pesticides.“

Professor Aleksandra Čavoški, University of Birmingham, said: “EFSA has made significant strides in improving its independence policy with the aim of preventing the revolving door effect. However, EFSA’s independence policy does not go far enough to prevent conflicts of interest that may result from the provision of research funding.”

 

 




Carcinogenicity assessment was flawed for 4 out of 10 pesticides, new report shows

Brussels, Hamburg, 17.10.2019. Press release. A new review of carcinogenicity assessments of pesticide active ingredients shows 40 percent of them are not carried out in compliance with existing European guidelines, leading to possible continued exposure of farmers and consumers to cancer-causing pesticides [1]. In 30 percent of the cases significant details were missing from the dossiers, raising uncertainties about how European authorities came to a conclusion.

The report ‘Chronically underrated – A review of the EU carcinogenic hazard assessment of 10 pesticides’, released today by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) analysed the carcinogenicity sections of the draft Renewal Assessments Reports (RARs) of ten pesticides [2]. The review, performed by senior toxicologist Peter Clausing, focused on how the sections describing carcinogenicity studies in rats and mice in the EU assessment documents complied with the applicable guidelines and guidance documents of the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“After discovering a considerable number of flaws in the carcinogenicity assessment of glyphosate, it was the logical next step to investigate whether similar problems occurred with other pesticides. Analysing these ten RARs has made it clear that at least three of the pesticides should have been classified as ‘presumed’ human carcinogens, rather than just ‘suspected’ human carcinogens”, explained Susan Haffmans, Senior Advisor on Pesticides at PAN Germany.

The carcinogenicity classification triggers the regulatory fate of a pesticide active ingredient. Pesticides classified as ‘suspected’ human carcinogens can be marketed, while those classified as ‘presumed’ human carcinogens cannot or must be withdrawn [3].

Our report shows that:
– For three pesticides, the outcome of our review was similar to that of the European authorities: chlorothalonil, diuron, forchlorfenuron;
– For three pesticides, the outcome of our review differed from that of the European authorities and we found that the classification should be upgraded: folpet, pirimicarb and thiacloprid;
– For one pesticide, our review found that severe data gap should have been identified by the European authorities and a flawed decisive carcinogenicity should not have been accepted: phosmet;
– For three pesticides, our review found that reports were not sufficiently informed to allow any conclusive external review: captan, chlorpropham, dimoxystrobin.

“The current rise of non-communicable diseases including cancer means that Europe cannot afford the health price of flawed pesticides classifications”, commented Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). “Committing to a rigorous implementation of European laws should be a founding block of reaching Europe’s zero-pollution objective to prevent diseases and protect people, starting with farmers, from substances toxic to their health.”

PAN Germany and HEAL call on the European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen to pay particular attention to a more rigorous application of existing pesticide legislation and guidance documents. In her recent confirmation hearing at the European Parliament, the Commissioner-designate for Health Stella Kyriakides already agreed Europe needs to reduce dependency on pesticides and stimulate the take-up of low-risk and non-chemical alternatives [4].

Contact:

Dr. Peter Clausing, Executive board member Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany, peter.clausing@pan-germany.org

Yannick Vicaire, Chemicals and Health Policy campaigner Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) , yannick@env-health.org

Notes to editor:

[1] Chronically Underrated, Peter Clausing, October 2019.
[2] The ten pesticides reviewed included Captan, Chlorotalonil, Chlorpropham, Dimoxystrobin, Diuron, Folpet, Forchlorfenuron, Phosmet, Pirimicarb and Thiacloprid.
[3] Article 3.6.3 of regulation 11/072009 states: “An active substance, safener or synergist shall only be approved, if, on the basis of assessment of carcinogenicity testing carried out in accordance with the data requirements for the active substances, safener or synergist and other available data and information, including a review of the scientific literature, reviewed by the Authority, it is not or has not to be classified, in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, as carcinogen category 1A or 1B…”
[4] Answers to the European Parliament questionnaire to the Commissioner-Designate Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner-designate for health

Other publications on this topic from Dr. Peter Clausing include:
– Clausing et al. (2018): Pesticides and public health: a review of the regulatory approach to assessing the carcinogenicity of glyphosate in the European Union. J. Epidemiol. Community Health 72, 668–672
Pesticide Action Network Europe (2018): Ensuring a higher level of protection from pesticides in Europe

The Pesticide Action Network Germany (PAN Germany) is a nongovernmental organisation informing about the negative consequences of pesticide use and promoting environment-friendly and socially fair alternatives. PAN Germany is part of the PAN International network. Our work comprises critical analyses of pesticides and their use, policy advice practical advice for farmers and consumers.

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is the leading not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects human health in the European Union (EU) and beyond. HEAL works to shape laws and policies that promote planetary and human health and protect those most affected by pollution, and raise awareness on the benefits of environmental action for health.

CHRONICALLY UNDERRATED? A review of the European carcinogenic hazard assessment of 10 pesticides

CHRONICALLY UNDERRATED? A review of the European carcinogenic hazard assessment of 10 pesticides

Datum: 21. Oktober 2019 289.03 KB

This report, commissioned by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany and by the Health and Environment...

Summary: CHRONICALLY UNDERRATED? A review of the European carcinogenic hazard assessment of 10 pesticides

Summary: CHRONICALLY UNDERRATED? A review of the European carcinogenic hazard assessment of 10 pesticides

Datum: 21. Oktober 2019 80.39 KB

Glyphosate, one of the world’s most widely used pesticides that has been linked to multiple negative...

Zusammenfassung: CHRONISCH UNTERBEWERTET? Eine Überprüfung des EU-Bewertungsverfahrens zur Krebsgefahr von 10 Pestiziden

Zusammenfassung: CHRONISCH UNTERBEWERTET? Eine Überprüfung des EU-Bewertungsverfahrens zur Krebsgefahr von 10 Pestiziden

Datum: 21. Oktober 2019 88.71 KB

Glyphosat, eines der meistverwendeten Pestizide der Welt, das mit verschiedenen negativen Auswirkungen...

Resumen: ¿INFRAVALORACIÓN CRÓNICA? Una revisión de la evaluación de la Unión Europea sobre el riesgo carcinogénico de 10 pesticidas

Resumen: ¿INFRAVALORACIÓN CRÓNICA? Una revisión de la evaluación de la Unión Europea sobre el riesgo carcinogénico de 10 pesticidas

Datum: 21. Oktober 2019 273.16 KB

El glifosato, uno de los pesticidas más utilizados en el mundo y que ha sido relacionado con múltiples...




New overview of data on chlorpyrifos residues in fruits strengthens health-case for EU-wide ban

Brussels, 19.06.2019. Common press release.

Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known for its damaging effects on children’s brain development, is among the top 15 active substances most frequently found in European unprocessed food and prominently present in fruit. This is the conclusion of a new briefing published today, bringing together all official EU data on the analysis of 791 different pesticide residues [1].

Chlorpyrifos is most often detected in citrus fruits: more than 1 out of 3 sampled grapefruits (39%) and lemons (36%), and 1 out of 4 sampled oranges (29%) and mandarins (25%) contained chlorpyrifos residues.

The current authorisation of chlorpyrifos in the European Union is set to expire on 31 January 2020. Member States in charge of the safety assessment of this pesticide are among those countries where residues of the pesticide were most frequently detected in fruits. Spain, where roughly 1 in 5 sampled fruit, including 40% of oranges and 35% of mandarins, are contaminated with chlorpyrifos, is the rapporteur Member State assigned to oversee the re-authorisation dossier. Poland, acting as co-rapporteur, tops the charts as the country with the highest contamination of chlorpyrifos in apples.

Earlier this week, a series of investigative articles published by media outlets across Europe highlighted that the previous European market approval process of chlorpyrifos ignored hundreds of independent studies showing evidence of brain-harming effects [2]. The investigation also found that the EU approval was based on just one single study, that was commissioned by industry [3].

Exposure to chlorpyrifos, even in small doses, can harm children’s brain development and hormonal systems. Scientists have linked it to decreases of IQ in children, working memory loss, endocrine disruption, autism and Parkinson’s Disease [4].

Close to 200,000 have already raised their voices to demand a toxic-free future for farming and food [5]. This #BanChlorpyrifos petition – launched by international consumer watchdog SumOfUs, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Générations Futures, Ecologistas en Acción, and the European and German branches of the Pesticide Action Network – is pressuring European governments and the Commission to ban chlorpyrifos for good.

QUOTES:

Génon K. Jensen, Executive Director at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) says: “Parents should not have to worry about harming their children’s health when feeding them fruits like oranges or mandarins, which show the highest levels of chlorpyrifos residues. The body of evidence on neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl is compelling. Chronic exposure to low doses such as residues in fruit is linked to a decrease in IQ and working memory loss in children, there should be zero tolerance. We call on national governments and the EU institutions to make the withdrawal of both substances a public health priority.”

Angeliki Lyssimachou, Science Policy Officer at Pesticide Action Network Europe says: “It’s outrageous that our regulatory system allows for neurotoxic chlorpyrifos, known to harm children’s brains, to be used on open fields and its residues to be present in our food. We call upon Regulators to ban chlorpyrifos at once and improve our pesticide authorisation system, which currently promotes dependency on toxic pesticides in agriculture threatening -rather than protecting- human health and the environment.”

Nabil Berbour, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs says: “This toxic pesticide is harmful to children’s brain development and should have been banned a long time ago in Europe as revealed by a series of investigative pieces in the European press this week. It’s time for EU governments to put people’s health before the pesticide industry’s profits. In a petition launched by the #StopChlorpyrifos group, more than 191,000 EU citizens urge them to do so.”

Peter Clausing, Board member of Pesticide Action Network Germany says: “Chlorpyrifos represents a bold example that the EU’s risk assessment for neurotoxic effects is outdated and insufficient.”

 

Contact:

Yannick Vicaire, Chemicals and Health Policy Campaigner at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), yannick@env-health.org, tel.: 0033 (0) 608 755 015

Angeliki Lyssimachou, Science Policy Officer at Pesticide Action Network Europe, angeliki@pan-europe.org, tel.: +32 496 39 29 30

Nabil Berbour, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs, nabil@sumofus.org, tel.: +33 7 56 82 06 55

 

Notes:

[1] “Chlorpyrifos residues in fruits, the case for a EU-wide ban to protect consumers”, published June 2019 by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Pesticide Action Network Europe. https://www.env-health.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/June-2019-PAN-HEAL-Briefing-chlorpyrifos_web.pdf

[2] This series of articles includes:

–      Main portal (English): Investigative Reporting Denmark (https://www.ir-d.dk/chlorpyrifos/)

–      In English: the EU Observer (https://euobserver.com/health/145146)

–      In French:  Le Monde (https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2019/06/17/chlorpyrifos-les-dangers-ignores-d-un-pesticide-toxique_5477084_3244.html)

–      In Dutch: Knack (https://www.knack.be/nieuws/belgie/europa-onderzoekt-verbod-op-insectenvergif-dat-in-onze-voeding-opduikt/article-longread-1477255.html)

–       In Spanish: El Confidencial (https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2019-06-17/pesticia-agricultura-espana-peligro-ue-prohibicion_2073403/)

[3] Safety of Safety Evaluation of Pesticides: developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl. Mie, Rudén, Grandjean. Environ Health. 2018 Nov 16;17(1):77. doi: 10.1186/s12940-018-0421-y https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30442131

[4] Factsheet ‘EU should ban brain-harming chlorpyrifos to protect health’ (published August 2018 by the HEAL, PAN Europe, Générations Futures and PAN Germany).

[5] SumOfUs petition: No more toxic chlorpyrifos in our food: https://actions.sumofus.org/a/chlorpyrifos (also available in German, Spanish and French). Campaign video: https://twitter.com/SumOfUs/status/1140606268157157376

Infographic ‘Ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos from our plates’ (published June 2019 by HEAL) https://www.env-health.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Ban-Chlorpyrifos-Infographic-v2.png

 




Children’s playgrounds contaminated with pesticides from apple and wine orchards

Brussels, 21.05.2019. Press release. Unique worldwide scientific study on pesticide contamination of playgrounds in South-Tyrol (Italy) published. Research team shares concerns about endocrine disruptors.