Pesticides News The journal of Pesticide Action Network UK An international perspective on the health and environmental effects of pesticides
No.101 September 2015
Pesticides sold to local farmers in small quantities, mixed by shop staff, and supplied in used drinks bottles in a pesticide shop in Ararat Province, Armenia Photo: PAN UK
In this edition •
Pesticide risks for farmers and vulnerable groups in Armenia
Pressure mounts on retailers to stop selling Glyphosate
Neonicotinoids: Defra’s short-sighted approach risks losing trust in pesticide regulation
No Land, No Life! - campaign against land grabbing in Asia - Pacific region
No.101 September 2015
Pesticide risks for farmers and vulnerable social groups in Armenia PAN UK has recently completed an EU-‐funded project working with the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and national partners in six former Soviet republics to identify risky practices and pesticide exposure routes among farming families and agricultural workers. In the first of a series of articles on the findings of this work, Elena Manvelyan, Knarik Grigoryan and Lilik Simonyan of Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment (AWHHE) outline the findings in Armenia. health services or by other means, although Armenia is introducing a new pesticide incident report card for health services. It is doubtful that a full picture of the situation would have emerged without collecting data directly from rural families, since participants in the current study indicated that the vast majority of such incidents are not reported to health services. Even quite severe symptoms, it seems, are usually selfmedicated (e.g. with yoghurt, activated charcoal and/or bed rest).
pesticides labels, and 44% reported signs or symptoms of pesticide poisoning in the previous 12 months. Agriculture in Armenia
According to FAOSTAT 2011, the total area of agricultural land in Armenia is 2077.0 thousand hectares, of which 449.2 thousand hectares are arable land (basic crops are winter and spring grains, potatoes and vegetables), 33.0 thousand hectares are perennial plantations (including fruits and some horticultural crops) New survey tools were developed and most of the remainder is used for livestock. Inevitably agriculture has for these studies. A simple, pictoral been affected by the broader changes survey for children and a severity in the country. Pre-1991 Armenia had score calculator (which crudely large state institutions and a robust categorises signs and symptoms of network of agricultural specialists, so A woman showing the survey team her pesticide poisoning into mild, arsenic based pesticide Photo: PAN UK that producers had greater access to moderate and severe cases) were particularly innovative aspects of the specialist advice and information regarding crop protection and Between October 2014 and May 2015 methodology. In addition to the small production methods. Nowadays, the scale surveys, a desk study was AWHHE undertook a study in land has been distributed in small completed in each country to gather Armenia designed to identify and plots, but with little support or existing information and a wide raise awareness of particularly hazardous pesticide practices among range of stakeholders were consulted in group discussions and semifarming communities. The intended structured interviews. outcome was to strengthen community responses to those risks, In broad terms, in Armenia, we while also strengthening regulatory found a low level of awareness of decision-making with respect to pesticide risks among the highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). communities surveyed. Many people engaged in risky practices when Regional picture buying, storing, handling or disposing of pesticides. Our main The studies across all six former conclusions were that there was a Soviet republics (Belarus, Georgia, need for greater awareness of risks, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine, the promotion of safer practices and along with Armenia) have revealed alternatives, and the establishment of new information concerning a monitoring and surveillance systems. hitherto rather hidden problem of We found, for example, that a high acute pesticide poisoning. None of Map of Armenia’s Administrative proportion of respondents buy the participating countries currently Divisions © Environmental Research & pesticides from unlicensed premises, Management Centre, American has a system in place to collect data while 48% expressed difficulties with University of Armenia on pesticide poisoning, through www.pan-uk.org
No.101 September 2015 lack essential information on the scale and causes of the problem that would help them to make more robust regulatory decisions.
the United Nations (FAO) • Local community groups in Odzun village (Lori marz) • Health care service providers The key points emerging from these consultations were that:
Armenia has no domestic agrochemical production, and is an importer of fertilizers and pesticides.
Although according to the official data no banned pesticides included in the list enter the Armenian market legally, there is some information from the farmers that highly hazardous pesticides from China can be found on the Armenian market. It is difficult to estimate the quantity of such pesticides and how they get to the market. According to the health surveys (e.g. a 2013 survey on pesticide use practices in the Ararat Valley of Armenia1) reviewed by the desk study, women were at risk of possible damage of reproductive functions and prenatal damage of unborn children. Infants and children were at greater vulnerability at both high levels and low levels exposure. According to the social (including gender) and economic surveys and studies (e.g. a study on social impact of emigration2), poverty (particularly linked to migration) increased risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Consultations with stakeholders
A desk study was completed using information from various online and printed sources to collect and summarize relevant work already completed or ongoing in Armenia in the area of pesticides usage, practices and associated risks.
Key stakeholders within Armenia were consulted for their knowledge and understanding of pesticide problems within the country. These included:
• Farmers and communities noted the need for expert support and awareness raising regarding pesticide risks; lack of knowledge or experience of agro-ecological approaches to pest management; uncontrolled (over and underapplication of pesticides); limited use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
A woman with the homemade pesticide applicator made by her husband Photo: PAN UK
expertise available to growers. Farm sizes average 0.5 to 1.4 ha. There are currently 340,000 farms in Armenia.
• Farmers Association of Armenia • Hrashk Aygi Co Ltd. (Pesticide The desk study showed that trade organization) pesticide poisoning is a significant • Agriculture Support, Republican issue for Armenia. Poisonings do Center of the Ministry of take place, however, there is no Agriculture registration and referral system • Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of (although Armenia is now in the Nature Protection and Ministry of process of introducing a new report Health card for health services to record • Designated National Authority for incidents of poisoning) and neither is the Rotterdam Convention there an appropriate service provision • Food safety authority of the mechanism. Users of pesticides often Ministry of Agriculture have a poor understanding of the • Armenian National Agrarian impact they have on their own health University or the health of others. Pesticide • Center for Risk Assessment regulators and decision-makers also • Food & Agriculture Organisation of www.pan-uk.org
• The national authorities noted limited resources for pesticide regulation and enforcement; the issues of impact of pesticides on health are not monitored or regulated. • The scientific and research centres and universities noted the need for strengthening laboratory services; they also noted the lack of funding for monitoring pesticides and residues in the environment and in food products. The law on chemicals is still under development. • Pesticide importers (wholesale) noted the complicated requirements for labeling and lack of disposal options or regulation for expired pesticides and containers.
• The community health care providers noted the low capacity of the primary health care facilities, in particular lack of diagnostic and referral tools, lack of case management. Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey methodology The objective of the KAP survey was to identify particularly hazardous practices among women and children in five communities of Ararat and 3
Pesticides News Armavir provinces. These being the most agricultural provinces of Armenia, with the likely greatest application of pesticides.
No.101 September 2015 • Involvement of children: planting, weeding, harvesting, and sorting. Among the children aged 7-10, 20% participate in planting, picking, harvesting activities; 5% participate in sorting. Among the children aged 15-18, 15% are engaged in harvesting activities
For the survey, a questionnaire was developed by PAN UK in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention. This was tested and adapted to the Armenian • Purchase of pesticides: 64% of context in cooperation with AWHHE farmers noted that they purchased and the Ministry of Agriculture of the pesticides from licensed shops Armenia. New survey tools were while 36% purchased some or all of the pesticides in unlicensed shops. required because the focus on the social dimensions of pesticide Thus, the pesticide acquisition is exposure is a new area, inadequately not always done properly with due addressed by existing materials. consideration of the quality, the expiration date or other important The questionnaire consisted of a information about the pesticide. general section for each participant, a section for people handling • Original containers: only 31% of The survey team in a group discussion with women in a village in Lori Province pesticides, a section for the people farmers noted that the pesticides Photo: PAN UK who do not apply pesticides, but may were in original containers. The be exposed on the farm while pesticide information is incomplete; cannot be excluded. performing different tasks, and a sometimes pesticides are sold in section for children. All questions used bottles of juices and mineral • Washing contaminated clothing: had a selection of response options, water, which can cause poisoning. 83% of respondents above 18 although a few questions also washed pesticide-contaminated • Understanding labels: 52% of required descriptive answers. clothes (this is not surprising, since farmers understood labels; 22% had almost all respondents were The survey team included 4 difficulty understanding the label as women); 41% of respondents handpeople (AWHHE experts and invited it was either missing or used a washed the contaminated clothing interviewers), and the KAP survey foreign language; 4% had difficulty separately while 5% wash it was conducted in November and understanding the technical together with everyday clothing. December 2014 in the villages of language. Thus, 48% do not get Therefore, hand-washing of Mkhchyan, Darakert, Mrgavet, proper information about pesticide contaminated clothes poses the Arshaluys, and Noravan. for various reasons. danger of penetration from the skin. Everyday clothing washed together Results of KAP survey • Training on the use of protective with contaminated clothing may get clothing and equipment: 83% did contaminated and the pesticides • Farm size: mostly small farms of not receive any training; 13% were may get into contact with the skin less than 3 ha (99%) and 1% of trained but could not remember the farms sized 3-10 ha date and 4% were trained more than while wearing. 5 years ago. Thus, 83% of • Disposal of used pesticide respondents are not trained, they are containers: 36% of respondents not properly protected and their burned the used containers; 32% health may be at risk. discarded them in the field and 12% • Tasks by women: 38% apply - triple rinsed (no one punctured • Pesticide storage: 34% of farmers pesticides and perform the technical and triple rinsed or buried). stored the pesticides outside home maintenance of equipment; 33% of Throwing the container away in the but not in a locked building; 1% women dispose of used containers; field or a landfill has the risk of stored at home and 1% stored with 39% make the pesticide polluting the environment and foodstuffs. So, one third of preparations; 46% deal with stored endangers human health. Some respondents store the pesticides at pesticides; 47% take the pesticides children said they had handled such home, not in a safe place, and the to the farm containers. possibility of accidental poisoning • Main crops: leaf vegetables (39%), tomatoes (32%), greenhouse crops (29%)
No.101 September 2015 news items on Armenia's two main TV networks - Armenia TV and ARTV - national radio and national and regional newspapers and internet news portals.
reporting incidents under Article 6 of the Rotterdam Convention. --Further information
This work was undertaken as a component of an EU funded and FAO The study in Armenia was small facilitated project, ‘Improving scale, but it did raise important capacities to eliminate and prevent questions and clearly identified recurrence of obsolete pesticides as a common practices that are serious model for tackling unused hazardous cause for concern. It served the chemicals in the former Soviet valuable purpose of bringing key Union’. Background information actors together and opening dialogue about the project is available at: on the issues raised. In December http://www.fao.org/in-action/ 2014 Armenia took the important step pesticides-fsu/home/en/ of introducing a report card system --for incidents of pesticide poisoning. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org This is a very interesting innovation and AWHHE are ready to support References health workers to engage with this important initiative, if called upon to 1. Pesticide Use Practices in Rural Armenia, A. Tadevosyan , N. do so. Significance and next steps
Christine Fuell (Rotterdam Convention), Knarik Grigoryan (AWHHE) and Dr Keith Tyrell (PAN UK) meet the Armenian media Photo: PAN UK
Awareness raising As part of the project, PAN UK worked with AWHHE to produce a range of awareness raising materials aimed at farming communities, and targeted especially at social groups vulnerable to pesticide poisoning. Given that community access to the internet and digital literacy remains somewhat low3 in Armenia, the main materials produced were printed posters and leaflets, which could be distributed easily through farmers’ and community organisations in rural communities, and reach their target audience. These materials sought to address the low awareness of pesticide risks and risk reduction measures, that had been identified in the survey. These included a leaflet and set of posters on how people can reduce their risk of exposure when buying, transporting and using pesticides, as well as disposing of used pesticide containers. A further leaflet illustrated the main routes of human exposure to, and absorption of pesticides, as well as the symptoms of poisoning by the major pesticide types in use in the region. And finally, a poster aimed specifically at women and children, which illustrated a range of typical household pesticide hazards, which people were invited to identify, and check their answers against a list of all the hazards illustrated. The work in Armenia attracted national media coverage, including www.pan-uk.org
Further work is needed to build on this success in order to better understand the problems identified; to gain a better understanding of the HHPs associated with poisoning; and to take effective action to reduce the significant risks pesticides pose to rural families. On a global scale, there is potential to feed the information into international instruments, such as
Tadevosyan, K. Kelly, Journal of Agromedicine, 2013
2. Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, Final Country Report Armenia, H. Manasyan, G. Poghosyan, Die Gesellschaft für Versicherungswissenschaft und gestaltung e.V. (GVG), 2012 3. https://freedomhouse.org/report/ freedom-net/2013/armenia#.Vcdc052rT-k
English version of the Can you spot the pesticide hazards? poster
No.101 September 2015
Neonicotinoids: Defra’s short-sighted approach risks losing trust in pesticide regulation Defra’s recent decision to over-rule an EU-wide ban and allow the planting of neonicotinoid-treated oil seed rape in the UK, has rightly sparked widespread concern, but PAN UK’s Director, Dr Keith Tyrell, argues that the secrecy surrounding the decision and the close involvement of industry also threatens to undermine the public trust in the whole system of pesticide regulation. At the end of July, Defra – the UK Environment Department – approved an application from the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) to plant oil seed rape treated with the neonicotinoid insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The “emergency derogation” will apply to 30,000 hectares (about 5% of the total area of UK oil seed rape planting) and will last for a period of 120 days1. In 2013, in response to concerns that neoniocotinoid seed treatments were behind serious declines in bees and other pollinators, the European Commission imposed a two-year ban on the use of the neonicotinoid insecticides clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiomethoxam, on flowering crops including oil seed rape.2 In recommending the ban, the EC drew on a comprehensive and independent scientific assessment conducted by the European Food Safety Authority.3 All of the data and studies used by EFSA were publicly available and peer reviewed. In contrast to this openness, Defra has refused to publish the NFU’s application or any of the reasoning behind its decision. It has even blocked the release of the minutes of the meeting where its scientific advisor – the Expert Committee on Pestcides (ECP) – reviewed the application.
Bayer and Syngenta, were present at the initial ECP meeting where the NFU application was discussed. Defra’s preferential treatment of industry and lack of transparency raises serious concerns about accountability and the role of industry in the regulatory process, but it is also a recipe for a bad decision-making. The shift towards so-called “evidence-led decision-making” in recent years has been accompanied by greater stakeholder engagement and consultation. This is for a good reason: it opens the door to a wider range of information and improves the quality of analysis by allowing critical assessments and evaluation of the argument and data underpinning them. Defra’s refusal to open the application or its decision to scrutiny has left it reliant on the information provided by the applicant and a narrow set of scientific advisors. Perhaps Defra wanted to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing situation in 2013, when the report it produced to justify its opposition to the EC ban did not stand up to scientific scrutiny and was widely rubbished.
Infamously, the Defra scientists who produced the report used statistical gymnastics to claim that neonics were having no impact on bees in the field. An independent reanalysis of the raw data, using a Shockingly, Defra has said that it more conventional statistical is keeping the information secret approach, actually showed the precisely to prevent NGOs and opposite.4 The report’s lead author independent experts critiquing it. This now works for Syngenta. secrecy however does not appear to The second casualty of Defra’s extend to the pesticide companies approach is public trust in the who make billions from these regulatory system. Trust is crucial to products. It has since come to light that the neonicotinoid manufacturers, effective pesticide regulation. We www.pan-uk.org
Photo: PAN UK
need to feel confident that the system is works in the best interests of public health and the environment, and that private companies are unable to influence decisions. By granting privileged access to pesticide manufacturers, and excluding independent voices, Defra has created the perception that the decision-making process has been captured by pesticide companies. The safety of bees and pollinators, so vital to our ability to feed ourselves, now appears to have come second to the profits of big agribusiness. This undermining of public confidence in the system has serious implications for the future of regulation. We can expect regulators to come under much stronger attack, and their opinions on controversial issues will no longer be trusted. Local and national opposition will grow and unpopular decisions will be opposed on the ground. 6
Pesticides News The dismantling of this trust benefits no-one: not the farmers who struggle to balance yields with environmental stewardship – usually successfully – but who need reliable scientific advice to guide their growing; not the regulators who will come up against a wall of public opposition and will no longer be trusted; and not even pesticide manufacturers who can expect even more vilification and accusations of putting profit before people and the environment. Put frankly, all of these groups come off looking bad in this process and will pay a heavy price in the longer-term. The only way to regain trust is to through more openness and transparency. This means no more meetings behind closed doors; an end to the cosy relationship between industry and regulators and no more giving industry privileged access to the decision-making process.
No.101 September 2015 As a start, PAN UK has called on Defra to immediately publish all of the documents behind its decision to overrule the scientifically-based and precautionary ban on these bee-toxic chemicals. NFU case undermined by yield data In spite of Defra’s secrecy, we do know that one of the main planks of the NFU’s application was that without these chemicals, farmers across the UK would suffer massive pest losses. This argument was blown out of the water within weeks of Defra’s decision, when yield data for winter sown oil seed rape began to emerge. The figures, compiled by agricultural consultancy ADAS, showed that with 15% of the oil seed crop harvested, average yields were 3.5-3.7 tonnes per hectare – higher than the 3.4 tonne 10 year average.5 ADAS did note that in some areas yields were as low as 2.3t/ha, and
while it put some of the loss down to pest attack by the cabbage stem flea beetle, it also said that the hot dry weather over the summer had affected yields. References 1 NFU Neonics emergency use application approved www.nfuonline.com/news/press-centre/ neonics-emergency-use-applicationapproved 2 Commission implementing regulation (EU) No 485/2013 3 EFSA 2013, Conclusions on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment for bees for the active substances clothianidin, thiomethoxam, and imidacloprid 4 Goulson, D. Neonicotinoids impact bumblebee colony fitness in the field; a reanalysis of the UK’s Food & Environment Research Agency 2012 experiment 5 ADAS Harvest report 1, week 3 http:// cereals.ahdb.org.uk/markets/market-
News in brief Pressure mounts on retailers to stop selling Glyphosate
London based chains West Six and North One – have stopped selling the herbicide.
Meanwhile, governments have A number of major European retailers already begun to act. Some, such as the Netherlands and Sri Lanka have have stopped selling glyphosate already restricted or banned its use, because of worries over its health while others – including the UK are risks. The German retailer REWE reviewing its registration in light of and Swiss giant Migros, pulled the the IARC decision. weedkiller from their shelves following a statement from the The pesticide industry has reacted International Agency for Research on angrily to the moves claiming that the Cancer (IARC) – part of the World IARC’s conclusions are flawed and Health Organization – that glyphosate not based on sound science. In is a possible human carcinogen. particular, they have criticised the IARC for restricting its analysis to In May, PAN UK wrote to 16 of publicly available, peer-reviewed the biggest UK retailers including research. supermarkets and garden centres asking them to follow this lead and However, the IARC judgement stop selling glyphosate. This call has should come as no surprise. been followed by a campaign of letter Numerous animal studies have linked writing by consumers. glyphosate to cancer and other serious illnesses. In fact, the detail So far, only a handful of UK behind the IARC judgement, garden centres – including the published as a monograph at the end www.pan-uk.org
Photo: PAN UK
of July1, showed that the panel took a conservative approach, especially when considering possible exposure routes. For example, IARC did not consider inhalation during use as a major route of exposure and instead concentrated on dermal and ingestion. Responding to the IARC monograph, PAN International pointed out that inhalation via spray drift is a common and major exposure route.2 In Latin America, aerial spraying is widespread, while in 7
Pesticides News Europe; few home and garden users bother with personal protective equipment such as respirators. References 1. IARC monograph on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans, Volume 112: Glyphosate http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/ Monographs/vol112/mono112-02.pdf 2. PAN International press release 7th August 2015 Glyphosate Confirmed as a Probable Carcinogen by World Health Organization http://www.panna.org/press-release/ glyphosate-confirmed-probablecarcinogen-world-health-organization
No Land, No Life! campaign against land grabbing in Asia Pacific region For millions of small-scale farmers and food producers, including indigenous communities, especially in the poor countries of the Asia and Pacific region, access to land and resources is undermined by the monopoly control of landlords and big corporations.
No.101 September 2015 The No Land, No Life! campaign aims to: 1. Highlight land and resource grabbing as human rights issues. File cases or complaints on human rights violations related to land and resource grabbing from local communities at various local and international bodies. 2. Identify and highlight specific struggles of local communities on land and resources. Document and compile human rights violations related to cases of land and resource grabbing and produce materials for public information, policy lobbying, and filing of cases/complaints, among others. 3. Help raise greater awareness on and generate broader support for ongoing local cases of land and resource grabbing at the international level. Organise public forums, conferences, and other activities to strategise, raise awareness and mobilise greater support against land grabbers and human rights violators. 4. Coordinate and reinforce the various national campaigns against land and resource grabbing. Launch coordinated actions and initiatives in the Asia Pacific region. Enhance the capacity of local movements of peasants, indigenous peoples and other small food producers on Human Rights Advocacy through trainings, education and information materials, etc.
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) have launched a campaign - No Land, No Life! which aims to expose and oppose the continuing and various forms of land and resource grabbing in the region. The initiative aims to highlight and stop land and resource grabbing as a gross violation of the human rights of the people. Read more at http://www.panap.net/ PANAP and partners have already campaigns/land-food-rights/nolandnolife successfully stopped or delayed, as well as exposed, land and resource grabbing in local communities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. But the land and resource grabbers remain determined to take away what rightfully belongs to the people. www.pan-uk.org
No.101 September 2015
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