Pesticides News The journal of Pesticide Action Network UK An international perspective on the health and environmental effects of pesticides
No.103 June 2016
PAN UK's Pesticide Free Towns campaign has been growing and achieving significant successes (Photo: PAN UK)
In this edition • • • • • •
Phasing out HHPs in Costa Rica A brief summary of the "Mind The Gap" report and reactions it generated Pesticide Free Towns - A UK wide campaign by Pesticide Action Network UK Petition launched calling for U.S. Government to bring accountability for Bhopal Injustices News in brief - News from the Network Electricity and Combs - PAN-UK finds out about two alternative weed control methods
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Phasing out HHPs in Costa Rica Much welcomed policy attention is now being paid by UN agencies to dealing with the challenges posed by continued and widespread use of Highly Hazardous Pesticides. Fernando Ramirez Muñoz (IRET) and Stephanie Williamson (PAN-UK) report on a new collaborative project in Costa Rica run by the Regional Institute for Research into Toxic Substances (IRET) with PAN UK. Background The small Central American country of Costa Rica has one of the highest intensities of pesticide use in the world, despite its renown for being a peaceful, ecofriendly tourist destination, rich in biodiversity. Pesticide imports have risen steeply during the past three decades: from an average of 2,521 tonnes during the late seventies to 12,396 tonnes by 2013. Pesticide use intensity exceeded 18 kg of active ingredient per ha in 20061, a much higher rate than in most Pesticide hazard sign on banana plantation in Costa Rica (photo: Banana Link) developing countries 2 and 80% of which are considered highly mancozeb forms the highest Smallholder farmers growing hazardous pesticides (HHP). volume of imports and is used export and basic food crops face intensively in banana and different exposure risks, related to Pesticide use is particularly pineapple cultivation, sometimes knapsack and motorised spraying high on export crops, including via aerial spraying. with inadequate personal banana, coffee, pineapple and protective equipment (PPE) and melon, which generate significant Concerns for human health and poor understanding of acute and foreign exchange earnings and the environment chronic health hazards. National jobs. Large commercial estates, statistics from 2008 revealed an medium-sized family farms and Unsurprisingly, high use levels average of 100 fatal poisonings smallholders are all involved in and frequent exposure led to per year, with methomyl causing export production, often in harmful impacts for workers and the highest frequency, followed by monoculture systems and reliant farm families. Farmworker paraquat and terbufos3. Over 200 on high levels of agrochemical exposure concerns in the early cases of acute poisonings annually inputs. Costa Rica is famed for its 2000s included: were also recorded, raising coffee and bananas, yet recent • Handling of chlorpyrifosconcerns that commercial years have seen a three-fold impregnated covers for bananas (a agricultural interests were increase in pineapple cultivation, practice now phased out by overriding public health and from 12,500 hectares in 2000 to certified plantations) environmental protection goals. 40,000 hectares in 2009. • Dermal exposure to fungicides in fruit packing plants Biomonitoring studies found Many of the pesticides used are • Weak compliance with, and that tissues of children living close highly hazardous in terms of acute inadequate monitoring of, to banana plantations were toxicity, chronic health effects occupational Health & Safety contaminated with 2-5 times the and/or environmental norms. levels of chlorpyrifos and contamination. The fungicide mancozeb metabolites than www.pan-uk.org
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children close to organic farms4. Indigenous communities growing plantain and coffee were at severe risk due to their increasing use of highly toxic products, e.g. manual application of terbufos with zero protection.
endosulfan was banned for aerial application and use for rice production. In 2007 the government prohibited the insecticide monocrotophos and in 2012 the registration of insecticide azinphos methyl was cancelled.
This project runs from 2015-2017, coordinated by Fernando with colleagues at the Regional Institute for Research into Toxic Substances (IRET), which is part of the Costa Rican National University (UNA).
A serious level of water contamination by bromacyl, diuron and diazinon was documented in watercourses, groundwater and wells. Bromacyl use in pineapple production led to residues in water sources 20 times higher than EU permitted levels for drinking water. Pesticide spray drift or run-off into watercourses triggered numerous mass kills of fish and other aquatic life near intensively cultivated crops. Some banana plantations were associated with overspraying, drift and contamination of neighbouring villagers, crops and livestock, with repeated incidents of non-compliance with national laws on buffer zones and other risk mitigation measures5.
Despite these efforts, decrees aiming to restrict and reduce use of HHPs have not delivered their objectives, while the country’s regulatory system and controls still struggles to tackle the high frequency of fatal and acute poisonings linked to inappropriate handling of HHPs. For example, in 2010, 87 workers, including 28 women, on large cotton farms were affected in two separate mass intoxication incidents, both following crop spraying of organophosphates the previous day. People suffering serious respiratory problems, high blood pressure, skin rashes, fainting and dizziness were taken to local clinics, with ten workers needing emergency medical attention7.
Under this project, we aim to reduce the risks to the health and the environment of Costa Rica’s citizens from HHPs, with a focus on those used in coffee and pineapple production. The project objectives are to:
Recent steps in risk reduction
Civil society brings a new focus on tackling Highly Hazardous Pesticides
Successive Costa Rican governments have recognised these serious problems and introduced legislation to try and place stricter controls on pesticide distribution and use. For example, in 2008 tougher restrictions were imposed on the herbicide paraquat, following official recognition of high risk of occupational and accidental health effects, notably dermal exposure in workers. All aerial spraying with this herbicide is now banned and paraquat products can only be purchased via professional ‘prescription’6. In the same year the organochlorine insecticide www.pan-uk.org
Alarmed by the continued dependency on highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) in Costa Rica, PAN UK along with the national PAN contact point, agronomist Fernando Ramirez, developed a proposal in 2013 to identify and address these challenges. We succeeded in obtaining funding from the UN’s Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Quick Start Program for a multistakeholder project entitled Highly Hazardous Pesticides phase out and alternatives in Costa Rica.
1. Identify which pesticides and use patterns are Highly Hazardous in the Costa Rican context, using a life cycle approach (from regulation/import to disposal). 2. Bring together government agencies, the agriculture sector and NGOs to develop a joint National Action Plan for HHP Risk and Use Reduction. 3. Raise awareness of HHPs, their hazards and risky practices by users and train smallholder organizations and farm workers in practical measures to reduce their exposure and risks to health and the environment. 4. Identify potential alternative pest management options for priority HHPs and trial the most feasible with a network of pilot farms for IPM. 5. Share lessons, good practices and useful experiences with other countries in Central America Identifying HHP imports, distribution and use The IRET team started by making an inventory from government pesticide import data on which HHPs are used, formulated and marketed and then identifying 3
Pesticides News important data gaps. Costa Rica imports significant volumes of pesticides in technical ingredient form, which are then formulated into branded products for sale elsewhere in the Central American region, so it is important to factor this import and distribution channel into the HHP life cycle assessment. To learn exactly which HHPs are currently in use, where and how they are being handled, the team is conducting detailed pesticide use surveys with small and large coffee and pineapple farmers. To date, over 75 farmers have been interviewed to build a picture of typical uses and practices, which helps to identify priority HHPs for action and highlight risky practices that need to be changed. Table 1 lists the HHPs documented in use in both these crops. Preliminary results
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indicate an average pesticide use intensity of 2.86kg/ha active ingredient in coffee farms, with 62% of pesticides used being HHPs (as defined by PAN Internationalâ€™s HHP criteria). In pineapple, use intensity is considerably higher (43.8 kg/ha) with 44% of pesticides applied comprising HHPs, although this excludes post-harvest treatments on pineapple foliage left in the field, to combat the stable fly. This important pest can cause economic harm to livestock and it proliferates in old pineapple leaves. Growers often spray insecticides to control it and many use paraquat to promote quicker breakdown of the crop waste. Trying out safer, ecological alternatives to priority HHPs The project has begun trialling non-chemical alternatives for
selected crops and HHPs, identified as priority concerns during the pesticide use surveys: In pineapple: testing four different biopesticide and botanical options as soil drenches for nematode control in young pineapple plants as alternatives to the HHP nematicide ethoprophos. In coffee: trialling several commercial biofungicide and â€˜home-madeâ€™ organic mineral preparations as alternatives to HHP triazole fungicides used against coffee rust disease. In both focus crops, the team is keen to explore options for alternative weed management methods to replace HHP herbicides paraquat and glyphosate, Policy influence and training on risk and use reduction SAICM-funded civil society projects like this one need to be approved and conducted with official oversight by the national SAICM contact point, which in this case lies with the Costa Rican Ministry for the Environment and Energy (MINAE), who are very supportive. The project is working with a range of smallholder farmer organisations, commercial grower associations and individual estates, farm worker unions, NGOs and other stakeholders. During 2015, IRET has engaged with the government facilitated National Committee on Toxic Chemicals Management and its pesticides subgroup, making presentations on HHPs and discussing the idea of a national
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action plan on HHPs. The team has met officials in the Ministries of Environment, Health and Agriculture, plus the farming sector, including pineapple export companies.
agrochemical use in agriculture – what action is needed?, hosted by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation. Staff took part in the SAICM policy conference in September 2015 to help launch the PAN International book on ‘Phasing out We have raised awareness for HHPs with Agroecology’ and different stakeholders about HHPs disseminate information about and the SAICM approach, phasing out HHPs in Costa Rica. including two training sessions for PAN UK also contributed to an coffee smallholders on pesticide on-line discussion forum on hazards and ways to reduce risks Identifying best practices for when handling these. At these reducing the use and impacts of sessions team agronomists also agrochemicals hosted by discuss safer methods under Sustainability Xchange and the Integrated Pest Management with Sustainable Trade Initiative. farmer groups and encourage volunteers to take part in trials on alternatives. References PAN UK’s role is to provide technical and policy support to the Costa Rican team, sharing experiences from other countries and linking the work with global policy forums on HHPs. Within this remit, PAN UK gave one of the keynote presentations on pesticide issues in developing countries at the international symposium on Reducing
1. Ramírez, F., F. Chaverri, E. de la Cruz, C. Wesseling, L. Castillo and V. Bravo. Import of pesticides in Costa Rica, Period 1977-2006. IRET Technical Report Series No., 6, Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances, Universidad Nacional, Heredia., 58 p (2009). 2. Bravo, V., E. de la Cruz, G. Herrera, and F. Ramírez. Use of pesticides in crops as a tool for monitoring health hazards. UNICIENCIA., 27(1), 351-376 (2013). www.revistas.una.ac.cr/
index.php/uniciencia 3. Over 100 poisonings each year, Costa Rica. Pesticides News 80, 2008, p.23 4. van Wendel de Joode, A et al. (2012) Indigenous children living nearby plantations with chlorpyrifos-treated bags have elevated 3,5,6-trichloro-2pyridinol (TCPy) urinary concentrations. Environmental Research 117 17-26 5. Harmful aerial spraying provokes protests in banana zones. Pesticides News 67, 2005, p.11 6. Paraquat more severely restricted in Costa Rica. Pesticides News 79, 2008, p.17 7. Continued poisonings and protest force change in Latin America. Pesticides News 91, 2011, 14-16. Via: www.panuk.org/files/PN91b&wfinalpdf_r.pdf Contacts Fernando Ramirez Muñoz, Team Leader, Pesticide Diagnostics & Alternatives Research, IRET, National University Costa Rica. email@example.com Stephanie Williamson, Staff Scientist, PAN UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
A brief summary of the "Mind The Gap" report and reactions it generated New research shows that sustainable cotton production is steadily growing, but that market uptake (actual consumption) is lagging behind. The 'Mind the Gap'1 report commissioned by Solidaridad, PAN UK and WWF, explores the reasons why and makes some recommendations on solving the problem. But, almost as interesting as the report itself, are the reactions to it. These include some fairly sour grapes from Cotton Incorporated2 and an article in Delta Farm Press3. Both responses are worth unpicking as they both more or less ignore the main arguments presented and consequently highlight the importance of the Mind the Gap report, says the report's author Simon Ferringo. The article in Delta Farm Press (published in Monsanto's backyard), has been written by someone who has clearly not read the report at all. They use the cover picture (without knowing www.pan-uk.org
why the picture was used), to castigate sustainable cotton (specifically organic cotton), claiming no one associated with it knows anything about farm work. As it happens, I spent quite a long
time as a youth doing farm work in the south of France (including marching behind tractors as they were spraying fungicides on vines!). The picture of course was used to highlight how much there 5
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remains to improve in cotton production, not to romanticise an ideal about farming before pesticides. The Cotton Inc. response similarly avoids the subject of the report, picking up instead on a quote from Keith Tyrell about water use (the report is about markets, not field practices), before trying to steal a corner of the sustainability blanket for US cotton. It begins by highlighting that I, the author of the background study, have previously highlighted that cotton is fairly drought tolerant. The fact that cotton is drought tolerant does not mean it doesnâ€™t contribute to water stress. Water is routinely overused on cotton and cotton can also still be grown in unsuitable locations. As it happens, one of the most water stressed water sources in the USA, the Ogallala aquifer, is a source for cotton use and is rapidly being depleted. Therefore, cotton being drought tolerant does not necessarily mean that cotton production uses water sustainably. Barry Worsham, author of the Cotton Inc. article then tries to position US cotton as the answer to the low market uptake of sustainable cotton problem. While it is true that a lot of US cotton production has made vast strides in harm reduction, it does not mean that US cotton production itself has become sustainable in the pure sense of the meaning - meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their cotton needs4. Harm reduction is the basis of the sustainability claims by the US led www.pan-uk.org
Cotton Leads programme, using the example of reduced soil erosion as evidence of sustainability. Without ever stating or defining what sustainability is.there is no baseline. Now, while I might be the first to suggest that BCI or CmiA have many gaps still, they at least are much clearer about their goals, defining what is or is not sustainable, and what falls under continuous improvement. Nor do they rely only on legislation. Cotton Leads has a long way to go before it meets the criteria of a sustainable programme, let alone passes the eagle eye of the Advertising Standards Agency on any public claims it might try to make. One of the hopes from the Mind the Gap work is that it might bring those backing Cotton Leads to the table: "a huge amount of persuasion is needed to push those promoting the marketing programme Cotton Leads to turn it into a true standard, with definitions of sustainability, clear goals and performance baselines. Doing this would go a long way to making
cotton a beacon for 21st Century sustainable agriculture and development. If MyBMP and ABRAPA can do this, then why not US cotton?" One of my concerns resulting from the study was that as a result of the conventional cotton sector raising fears over polyester (a sort of common enemy and bogeyman), supporters of sustainable cotton have stopped campaigning on the very real problems that remain in cotton. As a result, cotton is often presented as not so bad. This affects demand for sustainable cotton and deflects attention towards problems in the manufacturing parts of the textiles supply chain instead. The aforementioned weak reactions to Mind the Gap epitomize why we need to keep pushing the conventional cotton sector. The report shows that while markets are slower to grow than production, there is still tremendous growth, and the more mature of the four sustainable cotton programmes reviewed, organic cotton, does achieve a 6
Pesticides News 70-80% uptake. That said, with some work this can be improved. A survey of informants revealed that there are still some critical areas that need attention. Namely to address the fact that while 8% of global cotton production was from a sustainable cotton standard in 2014, only 17% of sustainable cotton was used by brands and retailers, the rest ending up in conventional cotton supply chains. Reasons for the lag are many and complex, but A core part of the problem is that programmes like BCI and CmiA have been working to grow production as a priority, with market development secondary but now following as volumes become more economic. Additionally, Fairtrade has also reviewed its programme to make it easier and cheaper for buyers to begin sourcing.
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supply chains. Many companies also lack the resources to address this problem. This is why standard promoters need to support efforts and collaborate more on supporting sourcing, including promoting pools of supply of all types of cotton. Another factor is that in recent years there has been little campaigning on the problems that still affect much of global cotton production, be they environmental, social or economic, or indeed to do with trade inequality (see the recent report and briefing by Fairtrade Advocacy Office5).
Four sustainability cotton programmes standards for this research were considered to be credible sustainable options: organic, Fairtrade, Cotton Made in Africa and Better Cotton. Recommendations for improving market uptake and development centre around improving However, with a now large consumer engagement (including supply, it is also clear that there is more campaigning), market some resistance to sustainable signals and support, supplier cotton, mainly poor knowledge training, using futures contracts, within supply chain participants providing solid impact data, and and difficulties for brands and monitoring of market progress by retailers in knowing what is groups such as the commissioners happening or who is who in their of the research, WWF,
Solidaridad and PAN UK. References 1. www.pan-uk.org/news/pan-uksolidaridad-and-wwf-publishnew-report-on-more-sustainablecotton 2. Worsham J.B. Gaps in Mind the Gap: Cotton Inc. Responds to Sustainable Cotton Report Sourcing Journal Online April 11 2016 https:// sourcingjournalonline.com/gapsin-mind-the-gap-cotton-incresponds-to-sustainable-cottonreport/ 3. Laws F., 'Sustainability' authors show little understanding of real farm work Delta Farm Press April 14 2016 http:// deltafarmpress.com/blog/ sustainability-authors-show-littleunderstanding-real-farm-work 4. Based on the 'Brundtland' definition of sustainable development, in Our Common Future: www.un-documents.net/ our-common-future.pdf 5. Fairtrade Advocacy Office www.fairtrade-advocacy.org/ftaopublications/press-releases/pressrelease-2016/892-press-releasecotton-2016
Pesticide Free Towns - A UK wide campaign by the Pesticide Action Network UK In July 2016 PAN UK announced the start of a campaign aimed at turning the towns and cities of the UK pesticide free. The launch of the campaign was ushered in by the unveiling of the first pesticide free zone in Brighton located in the Brighthelm Centre where PAN UK has its office. Since then the campaign has been growing, achieving significant successes and important developments, which Nick Mole reports below. You can keep up with all the latest news about the campaign on the PAN UK website and relevant Facebook pages. Why are we calling for pesticide free towns and cities? In terms of pesticides, use in the amenity sector and in particular use by councils throughout the UK is the www.pan-uk.org
second largest use of pesticides outside of agriculture. Whilst small in comparison with the amounts of pesticides used in agriculture it is still a significant
amount of potentially harmful chemicals being introduced into the environment, and their use exposes millions of UK citizens to them on a daily basis. There are 7
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ongoing concerns about the use of pesticides in public areas where the most vulnerable to their harmful effects (particularly children and pregnant women) can come into regular contact with them – notably in schools, parks, playgrounds and hospitals. There are of course environmental effects to consider too, urban biodiversity from bees to hedgehogs can be and is adversely affected by pesticide use. Further, pesticides used in towns and cities contaminate water bodies, which ultimately have to be cleaned up by the water companies who’s costs are reflected in the water bills of consumers, meaning we bear the cost.
Photo: PAN UK
& Hove to sign. The petition was an old fashioned paper petition and with the kind support of several shops in Brighton, (Infinity Foods, Brighton Foodshed, Hilly Laine and Lush) was made available to their Finally, by campaigning to stop customers to sign. We quickly the use of toxic pesticides on the gathered nearly 1000 signatures. streets and pavements, parks and schools of our towns and cities we At the same time PAN UK had hope that it will raise greater been in discussion with Green awareness amongst the public Party councillors to see how they about the very serious issue of the could help support our campaign. use, overuse and misuse of This resulted in a motion to the pesticides in UK agriculture – an council being submitted by area where we also wish to see Councillor Louisa Greenbaum for reduction and ultimately the discussion at a full council cessation of the use of toxic meeting in March 2016. The pesticides. motion called on Brighton & Hove Council to stop the use of Brighton & Hove glyphosate immediately and to explore non-chemical weed Being based in the city of control methods between now and Brighton & Hove, PAN UK was when the current weed control keen to ensure that it was the first contract is due for renewal in city to declare itself as either April 2017. PAN UK took the pesticide free or being committed opportunity to hand in the petition to going pesticide free. As noted prior to the council discussion and above, we started by announcing at the same time we were invited the first PAN UK pesticide free to present our case for a pesticide zone in the city and at the same free Brighton & Hove to all time started a petition for people members of the Council. that live, work or play in Brighton www.pan-uk.org
To our delight the motion was adopted by a unanimous council decision with all parties supporting the call to adopt a pesticide free approach. It is clear that the Councillors in Brighton & Hove see this not as a party political issue but as an important issue that goes beyond party lines. It should be noted here that PAN UK had already been contacted by representatives of the Brighton CityClean team before the motion had even been submitted to the Council as they were keen in their own right to see a stop to the use of pesticides in Brighton & Hove. The next step is to develop a trial of non-chemical techniques over the coming months that will look at all the options available for effective pesticide free weed control in the city. PAN UK will be working closely with the City Clean team to deliver this. PAN UK believes that not only will the use of glyphosate be stopped but that Brighton & Hove will be completely pesticide free by 2017. Bristol Simultaneously there has been a 8
Pesticides News campaign running in Bristol, supported by PAN UK, that has made some significant progress, particularly in terms of raising public awareness and gaining political support. PAN UK was delighted when it was announced that there would be a trial of nonpesticide weed control in the Cotham area of Bristol so see what was possible. Sadly it seems that either by design or accident the trial is not all that was hoped for, in fact it seems as though it has been designed to fail and the campaigners in Bristol who have worked so hard over the previous months are less than happy about developments. The PAN UK reaction to this can be read at http://www.pan-uk.org/news/hasbristol-non-herbicide-weedcontrol-trial-been-designed-tofail . Whilst this is not the outcome that could have been hoped for it has helped to galvanise local campaigners to work even more determinedly for
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an end to the use of pesticides on the streets of Bristol and more widely it serves to show how a pesticide free trial should not be conducted – a valuable lesson for Brighton and other cities that will be following the lead of Brighton in the coming months. National campaign The PAN UK Pesticide Free Towns campaign is a national campaign and as such we are encouraging, developing and assisting people to start their own campaigns all over the country. There are a number of campaigns that are currently in the early stages of development and PAN UK is in discussion with other individuals and groups around the UK who are interested in starting campaigns.
UK is supporting. Just a little over a month after being launched at the end of March to coincide with international pesticide action week, the petition calling on the council to stop the use of pesticides already has nearly 2,500 signatures. The campaign also has the support of a wide range of businesses and community enterprises from all over the borough. We are in for an exciting time in Hackney and are convinced that very soon we will be able to report a positive outcome as we have been able to for Brighton. Start your own campaign If you would like to start your own Pesticide Free campaign and would like to know how PAN UK can help you please email us at email@example.com
London Borough of Hackney One campaign that is off to an amazing start is the Pesticide Free Hackney campaign which PAN
Find out more at www.pan-uk.org/ pesticide-free-towns-and-cities
Petition launched calling for U.S. Government to bring accountability for Bhopal injustices A White House ‘We The People’ petition, backed by Hollywood star Martin Sheen, has been launched this month accusing US Government officials of obstructing the course of criminal justice for survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Indian prosecutors began a criminal investigation within 24 hours of the fatal gas leak in 1984 and charges of ‘culpable homicide’ were consequently brought against 12 Indian and American accused. The resulting trial began in December 1987, but had to proceed in the absence of the Americans who refused to show up in court. Colin Toogood of The Bohpal Medical Appeal explains. Martin Sheen played Union Carbide’s erstwhile CEO, Warren Anderson, in the 2014 feature film ‘Bhopal, A Prayer For Rain’. Anderson, who was sought on the same charges as the Union Carbide Corporation itself, died just weeks before the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, www.pan-uk.org
having never faced trial. The petition, proposed by the International campaign for Justice in Bhopal, calls on the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to serve a notice on Dow Chemical that summons the multinational giant to criminal proceedings in
India. The petition states that the DoJ has, on three previous occasions, failed to serve notice issued by the Bhopal Courts, which is in contravention of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed by both India and the US. The notice requires Dow to appear before the Bhopal Court on July 9
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13th, 2016 and Dow must ‘show cause’ why it should not produce its wholly–owned subsidiary, the Union Carbide Corporation, to face manslaughter charges for its role in the criminal charges. Martin Sheen, actor, activist and star of ‘Bhopal, A Prayer For Rain’, said: "The US government could pressure Dow to do the right thing, but instead the Department of Justice has been shielding Dow and Union Carbide from responsibility for over two and a half decades. And now, a possible merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont is looming. Once again the baton of ownership will pass hands but the liabilities will be ignored – unless we speak up.” This point was reiterated Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International “It is neither justice nor equality when a US company can evade accountability for the deaths of thousands of people in India.”
Photo: Giles Clarke
And finally, Gary Cohen, founder of Health Care Without Harm and one of the White House's Public Health and Climate 'Champions of Change', 2013 added:
and penalties for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in which 11 people died. The U.S. Government should play an equally active role in bringing Dow Chemical (Union Carbide’s owner) to justice in "Because the gassing of Bhopal Bhopal." remains legally unresolved even after 30 years, Union Carbide’s Sign the petition here: https:// victims experience prolonged, wh.gov/isOdv acute suffering. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice made BP pay $4 billion in criminal fines
News in brief Sustainability Standards to cooperate on eliminating HHPs
use, but until now co-operation between the different standards has been sporadic and ad hoc. The Eight members of ISEAL - the new agreement is aimed at making global membership association for standards more consistent and to sustainability standards – have promote collaboration. joined together to reduce the use of pesticides and agreed a plan to The new agreement lays out an move towards eliminating highly agenda to help standards work hazardous pesticides, finding together to collectively drive alternatives, and creating common bigger impact on a significant tools for producers to use. issue. In the ISEAL IPM coalition has agreed to promote a set of Many sustainability standards common principles for integrated include restrictions on pesticide pest management, to seek and www.pan-uk.org
promote alternatives to pesticide use, to share their strategies and techniques with each other, to create a common manual for training programmes and producers on worker health risks and how to use safety equipment, and to create a common reference database with information on banned pesticides and knowledgesharing on IPM. The Integrated Pest Management Coalition is made up of the following ISEAL members: 10
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Better Cotton Initiative, Bonsucro, Roundtable on Sustainable Fairtrade International, Global Biomaterials, Sustainable Coffee Platform, Golf Agriculture Network, UTZ Environment Organisation,
News from the Network Pesticide Action Network is global, with groups on all continents (except Antarctica). Here we intend to give updates of what we are up to, with ‘News from the Network’. In this issue we highlight the collaboration between different groups against the reauthorisation of Glyphosate currently on the agenda in Europe. In March, six environmental NGOs from five European countries including Global 2000, PAN Europe, PAN UK, Generations Futures, Nature et Progrès Belgique and Wemove.EU, filed a formal complaint against those responsible for the recent assessment of glyphosate in Europe. In March 2015, glyphosate was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a probable human carcinogen. But later, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), acting as a Rapporteur for the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), approved the industry’s application and proposed to classify glyphosate as “noncarcinogenic”. The 2009 EU pesticides law (1107/2009) forbids active substances which can cause cancer from being used as pesticides, so the proposed classification could give the green light for glyphosate's re-approval in Europe. The NGOs’ legal complaint, filed in Berlin, brings to the surface some serious violations of the statutory regulations and scientific standards which were www.pan-uk.org
used to deny the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, and requests the relevant state attorneys to investigate further. Angeliki Lysimachou of Pesticide Action Network Europe said:
unlawful, and dangerous. Thus we urge European member states to reject the re-approval of glyphosate on 7th March and take a stand to protect human health and the environment,”
The decision was postponed until May, so the PAN groups got “When we looked into how the together again to keep up the BfR and EFSA on one side and the pressure. experts of the World Health Organisation on the other could On the 4th of May, five reach opposite conclusions after members of the PAN family revising the same animal studies, including PAN-UK, Pesticide we were stunned by what we Action Network Europe, PAN found” Germany, PAN Italy, and Générations Futures (the French She continued, saying: arm of PAN), along with the IUF (The International Union of Farm “The flaws in the glyphosate Workers) and It’s European risk assessment are unacceptable, organisation EFFAT, wrote to EU 11
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leaders asking them to ban the use of glyphosate in Europe. Reminding them also that two thirds of EU citizens feel the same! We told them:
re-authorization would set back their own longstanding efforts to ban or restrict the application of glyphosate and other pesticides, and have urged the Commission to implement a ban on glyphosate ‘In response to growing use to ‘lead the way’. Failing that, scientific evidence pointing to the to respect at a minimum the April toxicity of glyphosate to humans 13 resolution of the European and to the environment, citizens of Parliament, which called for the EU have made it clear that limited reauthorization for 7 years, they do not want glyphosate being with important restrictions. used to grow their food or on their streets, parks, playgrounds and The decision has been schools. A recent survey by the postponed and as the debate polling organisation Yougov found continues we continue to follow it, that two thirds of EU citizens are report on it and monitor any in favour of a ban on glyphosate.’ outcomes. Mounting scientific evidence is pointing to the toxicity of glyphosate to the environment and to humans, including links to nonHodgkin's lymphoma among others. In light of this we consequently called for a moratorium to be instated in May on glyphosate use. This would be along similar lines to the recent decision to impose a two-year moratorium on selected neonicotinoids, in order to further assess their toxicity to bees and wild pollinators, but in this instance in the interest of protecting human health. There has been mounting support from non-European countries too, with farmers unions from six African countries including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia sending communications to EU heads of states pointing to the risks from agrochemicals that their members confront on a daily basis, often without sufficient protective clothing and with no training. The unions believe that www.pan-uk.org
PAN Asia Pacific launches Agroecology “Multiversity” PAN AP have developed an innovative way to allow researchers, trainers and farmers to share experience and lessons of agroecology. Built around a network of Field Learning Sites and an online portal www.ipamglobal.org - the International People’s Agroecology Multiversity (IPAM) will use on-farm and face-to-face sessions, webinars, and online learning modules and videos to facilitate learning, sharing and collaboration on agro-ecological practices and innovations in around the world.
academic resources on various topics on agroecology, food security and sovereignty; farmers’ and women’s knowledge and skills; biodiversity, health and safety. It will shine a light on the environmental and social realities and impacts of climate change and chemical-intensive/industry-led agriculture. IPAM has three critical focus areas (1) Research and knowledge platform for agroecology: covering evidence-based; scientific, action-research, and participatory research on agroecological zones, methods, crops, climate, culture and practices; (2) Learning platform: an onsite, community-based, actionbased learning approach with farmers/groups; (3) Action for Agro-ecology: a platform for community-building and mobilisation for agroecology through use of alerts, campaigning, networking, among others. Pesticides and children Finally, the last bit of News form The Network is that PAN North America (PANNA) published their report on effects of pesticides and children entitled Kids On The Front Line. Look out for more on this in the next issue!
The IPAM will draw on a wealth of experience from farmers groups, women’s organisations, NGOs, research and academic institutions and allies, to offer a dynamic and engaging experience in agroecology. Eventually it will have hundreds of resource materials, from field research, case studies and best practice to 11
No.103 June 2016
From electricity to combs, PAN-UK finds out about two alternative weed control methods As part of our commitment to finding solutions to the problem of overuse of pesticides, here we feature two alternatives for weed control that have recently come onto the market or are in development. We hear from Ubiqutek, who have developed an electricity-based system that precisely electrocutes undesirable plants in order to kill them off, root to tip. Also, the Swedish based farmer and innovator, Jonas Carlsson, has developed a machine using what they are calling ‘combcut’ technology that effectively combs the crop, cutting only the invasive weeds such as creeping thistle, among others. Read on to find out the details. Ubiqutek Offer an Electric Alternative to Pesticides Ubiqutek are pioneering the safe use of electricity as a viable and cost-effective alternative weed control technology for killing weeds in horticulture, amenity and agriculture. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2012, Ubiqutek draws on over 35 years of academic research by Dr. Mike The Ubiqutek Touch hand-weeder (photo: Ubiqutek) Diprose, an expert in electrical weed control. Their vision is to improve the environment by chemicals) to kill weeds for chemicals to be used. offering a greener alternative to systemically. The growth and Ubiqutek ‘s first product is a chemical weed control. control centres of a weed are professional hand-weeder aimed at found in the hypocotyl (in dicots) the amenity and horticultural The technology is well proven and mesocotyle (in monocots) markets. But they are also and Ubiqutek was founded in sections located below the surface developing a product for the response to current legislation of the ground. Because electricity agricultural industry which will banning or restricting the use of flows through the stem and roots, work with existing mechanical herbicides and to address the it then targets these sections. technology to allow the growing concern of plant Other alternative methods are automation of inter- and intra-row resistance to herbicides. generally applied on the surface weeds. It will also be powered and do not penetrate down into the from the tractor and requires no The technology uses electricity root as effectively as the natural other consumables, making it very to kill weeds from tip to root. flow of electricity. cost-effective to run. When a weed is touched, electricity flows down the stem Ubiqutek says their technology • Treats all species of weed, and into the roots and effectively is effective on all species of including woody, deep-rooted or boils the weed in-situ and turns weeds, including woody, deeptall weeds any water content into steam. It is rooted and tall weeds and can be • Root structure instantly killed very precise and only kills the used to treat perennial, biennial, with no disturbance of weeds it touches and does not annual and invasive weeds. They surrounding soil to unearth new impact the surrounding soil. have even used it to successfully seeds to germinate. treat Japanese Knotweed where it • Very low running costs (£6-8 Electricity is one of the few is effective on new shoots at a a day) with a 15L tank of red technologies (other than time too early in the growth cycle diesel lasting a full working day www.pan-uk.org
Pesticides News and no other consumables required. • Chemical free so suitable for water catchment areas. • Equally as quick as other alternative methods and capable of treating a wider range of weeds. • Fits onto the back of a small utility vehicle to easily reach typically inaccessible locations. • Can be used in windy conditions and on wet ground. • Restricted to authorised and trained operatives using biometric finger print technology.
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scissors, but with an opening in the rear part, slender cereal leaves slip through unharmed while coarser or branched weeds are cut, since the opening is too narrow for them. CombCut was created by putting many pairs of these knives onto an adjustable steel beam. The machine is rather easy to use and adjustable for best results; farmers have turned out to be rather skillful using it after a season or so.
process “Combcutting”. New ideas will make organic farming prosper even more
With the help from some grants and organizations supporting inventors and entrepreneurs in Sweden, CombCut machines are now, 10 years later, being sold in many countries worldwide. Jonas says that developing CombCut has been an adventure and highly educational learning experience. Combing the crop and cutting Committed to always being a weeds farmer, Jonas realizes that to develop sustainable farming more For more information please CombCut makes it possible to cut broadly, we need a lot of new contact Ubiquek directly via their weeds down in unbranched crops innovations and new ideas on how website www.ubiqutek.com like e.g. cereals, grassland and to solve lots of problems; he maize, cutting coarser weeds like hopes that his work with ‘From organic farmer to thistles, charlock, Lamb’s quarters CombCut can inspire more innovator but always an organic and many others. If the crop is farmers to develop their ideas to farmer’ an introduction to the branched, as for soy or some new solutions and products that ‘CombCutter’ by Joel vegetables, it’s possible to use will make organic farming Magnusson CombCut by cutting weeds prosper even more in the future. growing above the crop canopy. Jonas says it has been very A couple of years ago, organic Cut weeds will fall down and, important to work together with farmer Jonas Carlsson was depending on the weather, universities to develop the walking around in his fields in the decompose rather quickly. Of CombCut; combining the south east of Sweden. He had big course the weeds should be cut different backgrounds and problems with creeping thistle in before seeds mature in order to knowledge of farmers and his cereal fields and was thinking prevent recolonization. The researchers leads to the best about how to solve this problem. company calls their weeding solutions. While he was walking there touching the weeds and the cereal straws with his hands, he had an idea that became the foundation for the CombCut technology patent. CombCut 6.24 meter (also available as 8.48 meter) in a cereal field infested with wild mustard and thistles. A simple but effective technology By putting one knife together with a small metal bar like a pair of www.pan-uk.org
The CombCut combs the crop and cut the weeds. The knives are fixed and the cutting effect is achieved by moving the beam forward. (photo: Just Common Sense)
Pesticides News People need time to adapt to new ideas New ideas take time to establish in the market because some people are reluctant to adapt to them. So even if the machine now is fully developed people need to talk about it and see it work to understand it. The idea behind his patent is very simple and that too can be a problem when explaining the function, he says. People may think that it’s so simple so what’s the catch? But there’s no catch. Time has shown that it’s the easiest innovations that survive and survive on the market for a long time.
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Sciences is involved. Much of this research has focused on dealing with creeping thistle, which is a serious weed problem in cereals in Nordic countries Going global
CombCut machines have now been sold in many countries of Europe and now in Canada; there’s even one in Tasmania, Australia. Weed pressure differs depending on continent and climate. “We try to have a close connection with our customers,” Jonas says, noting that “we also encourage them to talk to each other on our social media platforms or when they meet at Research conducted by fairs and other events. The second Scandinavian agricultural opinions from other farmers are universities very important for the success of using CombCut. It’s brilliant to Swedish University of have pictures and comments from Agricultural Sciences has a farmer sitting in his tractor conducted a lot of research and testing CombCut on new weeds helped in the development process and sometimes in new crops. of CombCut. Now also the These comments are also very Norwegian University of Life important for further development
of the technology.” CombCut is manufactured in Sweden by a company that has been in business for more than 50 years, which has contributed to CombCuts’ further development. An inventor, but always an organic farmer Jonas Carlsson continues to operate his organic farm of about 100 acres, growing heirloom grains and some vegetables on half of it and forestry on the rest. He also has a farm shop there together with his wife. So yes, The CombCut is for sure made by organic growers for organic growers. Joel Magnusson is the former CEO of an Business incubator at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Now working as a consultant mainly for the green sector in Sweden. Just Common Sense is one of these companies. Joel’s education is mainly in horticulture and marketing.
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