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.


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.”



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



[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.

Pesticide Action Network Calls for Legally Binding Treaty for Highly Hazardous Pesticides

Montevideo, 26.03.2019. Press release.

On the eve of the upcoming 3rd Open Ended Working Group  of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), PAN redoubles its call for a global legally binding mechanism for the lifecycle management of pesticides, either as a new standalone treaty or as a legally binding protocol within a new overarching chemicals framework to phase out Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).

PAN expresses its deep concern that SAICM has failed to achieve sound management of pesticides and that pesticide poisoning continues in countries all around the world. PAN is releasing updated versions of two documents underlining the strong need for a legally binding treaty to ban HHPs. These are a PAN International List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (1) and a PAN International Consolidated List of Banned Pesticides. These two documents together show the large numbers of hazardous pesticides used around the world and the very uneven nature of regulation of hazardous pesticides around the globe.

An example illustrating such uneven regulation of pesticides is the highly toxic pesticide monocrotophos. Of the 154 countries for which information was available for the Consolidated List of Banned Pesticides, at least 112 have banned the insecticide monocrotophos, but its use in other countries continues to harm many people. It was responsible for killing 23 school children in India in 2013, implicated in the deaths of cotton growers in India in 2018, and in numerous other poisonings – despite the WHO calling on India to ban it 10 years ago. This is just one example of a HHP that should have been banned long ago, but remains in use and continues to poison people in countries where it is still used. PAN asks that companies still manufacturing monocrotophos should stop its manufacture and all remaining countries should ban it.

This situation occurs in many countries around the world, and Ms. Maimouna Diene, Director of PAN Africa says, “In many African countries we see high rates of poisonings of farmers and communities by HHPs. It is not possible to adequately protect communities, as well as their air, soil and water unless a legally binding mechanism for regulating HHPs is developed.”

Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) echoes this frustration and says  “The continued use of HHPs in Asian countries causes widespread poisonings of children, farmers, women and agricultural workers.  Recently PANAP and partners interviewed 2025 respondents in 7 countries, and found that 7 out of 10 people interviewed were poisoned by pesticides (3).  Rural people are poisoned by pesticides such as paraquat, lambda-cyhalothrin, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate.” She expressed dismay at the lack of action to prevent occupational poisonings and said “Continuing the sad saga of occupational pesticide poisonings of agricultural workers, a record number of such cases were reported last year in the Yavatmal district in Maharashtra state of India.”

Mr. Javier Souza, Regional Coordinator of PAN Latin America says „The use of HHPs in agriculture has led to frequent exposure and accidental poisoning of children throughout Latin America, for example when pesticide applications are made near schools or homes. Empty pesticide containers are discarded in the fields and rivers, contaminating the drinking water and increasing the plastic pollution of the sea because the users do not return them to their manufacturers, often violating current regulations.”

The lack of accountability of transnational pesticide corporations for the HHPs they produce and sell, especially in the Global South, led Ms. Susan Haffmans of PAN Germany to say “It is absolutely unethical that European countries like Germany, Switzerland, France and U.K. continue to export pesticides banned for use in these countries due to their toxicity. The exports to countries in the Global South continue to put communities there in danger from the hazards of exposure to HHPs.”

Ms. Kristin Schafer, Executive Director of PAN North America added “The consolidation of the pesticide industry has created giant corporations that have no interest in voluntary control measures, and put profits above all else. Years of evidence show us that these corporate actors aggressively undermine policies that protect public health and the environment. It’s time for the global community to act.”

PAN International calls on the global community to step up to the challenge and protect people across the world from HHPs by putting in place a legally binding treaty against HHPs.

Available for interview:

Dr. Meriel Watts, PAN Asia Pacific +64-21-1807830; meriel@merielwatts.net

Ms. Susan Haffmans, PAN Germany susan.haffmans@pan-germany.org, +49(0)40-3991910-25

Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific, sarojeni.rengam@panap.net
Javier Souza Casadinho, PAN Latin America, javierrapal@yahoo.com.ar ,+11 15 3617 1782

Ms. Kristin Schafer, PAN North America kristins@panna.org

Ms. Maimouna Diene, PAN Africa maimounadiene@pan-afrique.org


(1) The PAN International List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides is available at: http://pan-international.org/wp-content/uploads/PAN_HHP_List.pdf

(2) The PAN International Consolidated List of Banned Pesticide is available at: http://pan-international.org/pan-international-consolidated-list-of-banned-pesticides/

(3) Rights and Poisons is available at: https://panap.net/2018/10/of-rights-and-poisons-accountability-of-the-agrochemical-industry/

Europeans join forces calling for a higher level of protection from pesticides

Coalition CITIZENS FOR SCIENCE IN PESTICIDE REGULATION, press release. 31.10.2018. European regulators are letting the citizens of the EU down by allowing the use of harmful pesticides in agriculture and public green areas based on an ‘unfit for purpose’ risk assessment regime that relies on pesticide industry generated toxicity studies and overlooks substitution of pesticides with non-chemical ecological alternatives.

Global network responds to UN Symposium on Soil Pollution

PAN International calls for investment in agroecology

Press release.

April 30, 2018. On May 2, experts from around the world will gather in Rome for a global symposium on soil pollution. The event, organised jointly by several UN agencies, offers an important opportunity to highlight the urgent need to invest in soil health, according to the leaders of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International.

PAN leaders from all of the network’s regional centers participated in the recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Symposium on Agroecology, and note the important connections between the two events. Specifically, PAN applauds the concept note for the Soil Pollution symposium, which highlights pesticide use as an important cause of soil pollution: “The three major pathways responsible for the introduction of diffuse pollutants into soil are (i) atmospheric deposition, (ii) agricultural inputs, and (iii) flood events. Causes of pollution tend to be dominated by the transport of pollutants by erosion processes (wind and water erosion and sedimentation), and excessive nutrient and pesticide applications, heavy metals, POPs and inorganic pollutants.” (FAO and ITPS, 2015a).

The Global Symposium on Soil Pollution is being organised by FAO’s Global Soil Partnership, along with the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), the Secretariats of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the UN Environment Program and the World Health Organization.

It aims to provide scientific evidence to support action to prevent and reduce soil pollution for increased food safety, food security and nutrition and ecosystem services. It also calls for the restoration of polluted sites, with the first step being implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management.

PAN International welcomes the joint initiative, and urges participants to fully recognize the damaging effects of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), and calls on those developing the voluntary soil guidelines to include an overall objective of phasing out HHPs and reducing dependency on agricultural pesticides.

“This month marks the 10-year anniversary of release of the UN and World Bank-sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge Science & Technology for Development report,” notes Henriette Christensen of PAN Europe. “This pathbreaking report was approved by all participating European, Asian, African and Latin American countries, and called for increased investment in agro-ecological approaches to pest management and action to reduce pesticide dependence.”

“Since the 2015 international year of soils, public awareness has grown about the fundamental importance of healthy soil,” says Dr. Margaret Reeves, senior scientist at PAN North America. “Vibrant, diverse soil biology is a critical driver of soil function — ensuring plant access to nutrients, air and water, and resistance to pests and diseases. There’s a growing body of scientific evidence showing the harmful impacts of petroleum-derived pesticides and fertilizers on this critical soil biology.” (1)

“FAO is working with countries to phase out HHPs, which are defined according to a set of criteria established by the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management,” adds Sarojeni Rengam of PAN Asia and the Pacific. “In 2015, the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management recommended that in taking action on HHPs, emphasis should be on promoting agroecologically based approaches. There should therefore be close collaboration between these two areas of work.”

“We must see coordination among international agreements to avoid the continuous contamination of soils with pesticides and other chemicals, and proceed rapidly with the soil remediation,” agrees Javier Souza, the Regional Coordinator for PAN Latin America. “The science of agroecology reminds us that healthy soils are integral to resilient and sustainable agroecosystems — which in turn enable the feeding and development of healthy people.”

Ndéye Maïmouna Diene, PAN Africa’s director, highlights the particular importance of effective decontamination of polluted sites. “Africa is a continent that faces pollution problems due mainly to ongoing use and abuse of extremely dangerous pesticides,” says Diene. “We call for the establishment of policies that preserve the health of our people, our soil and the environment. We are convinced that agroecology is the safest way to fight pollution in the continent.”

“Healthy soils underpin all agricultural production,” adds Keith Tyrell, director of PAN-UK. “Excessive use of agrochemicals is damaging soil quality and undermining our ability to feed ourselves in the long term. We need to switch to more sustainable, agroecological farming systems that conserve and improve soil quality, now.”

PAN leaders also note that actions under three existing global instruments focused on chemicals have significant potential to address soil pollution:

  • The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade;
  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs); and
  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

In addition, the Third Session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly adopted a resolution in 2017 calling for accelerated collaboration to address and manage soil pollution, The declaration aims to work towards a pollution- free world.

Note (1):  For instance does a recent EU wide study show that glyphosate persists

For more information:

PAN Africa, Ndéye Maïmouna DIENE, maimounadiene@pan-afrique.org, 221775449689

PAN Asia Pacific, Sarojeni Rengam, sarojeni.rengam@panap.net

PAN Latin America, Javier Souza Casadinho, javierrapal@yahoo.com.ar, 11 15 3617 1782

PAN North America, Kristin Schafer, kristins@panna.org, 10119165883100

PAN Germany, Susan Haffmans, susan.haffmans@pan-germany.org, 49(0)40-3991910-25

PAN United Kingdom, Keith Tyrell, keithtyrell@pan-uk.org, 447588706224

PAN Europe, Henriette Christensen, henriette@pan-europe.info, +3223186255

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International 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.