PESTICIDE NEWS The Journal of Pesticide Action Network UK
An international perspective on the health and environmental effects of pesticides A NEW TOOLKIT ON HAZARDOUS PESTICIDES
IN BRIEF A new toolkit on hazardous pesticides Page 1 Tackling pesticide threat in Georgia Pages 2-3 New milling equipment for organic cotton farmers in Benin Page 4 June snap election: implications for pesticide regulation in the UK Page 5 Different approaches to pesticide-free towns in Europe Page 6
PAN UK has produced a new toolkit developed for the Rotterdam Convention. It provides guidance on how to monitor and report incidents of pesticide poisoning. Such information is of great value to communities and governments, and also has the potential to contribute to improved chemical management globally. We encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to take a look at the new material and use it to help in the effort to tackle risks from hazardous pesticides. This updated SHPF kit includes new video resources and case studies designed to share the real experiences of people involved in using pesticides and monitoring and reporting pesticide incidents. Article 6 of the Rotterdam Convention allows any party that is a developing country, or a country with an economy in transition, to propose the listing of a Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulation (SHPF) found to be causing problems. However, a very limited number of proposals have been submitted, despite widespread anecdotal evidence that a number of pesticides cause significant harm to human health and the environment in many developing countries. Governments often face challenges in meeting their commitments to collect and share data on the impacts of hazardous pesticides. This toolkit is designed to assist them, and others wishing to support the effort, to monitor and report health incidents related to pesticide use.
PAN North America takes EPA back to court over brainharming pesticide Page 7 New report shows glyphosate producers are "buying science" Page 8
Download the SHPF Toolkit Here
TACKLING PESTICIDE THREAT IN GEORGIA Background
In 2016, PAN UK worked with a partner organisation, Ecolife, to help the Ministry of Agriculture in Georgia in identifying hazardous pesticide practices and products in the country. The work was conducted in close collaboration and with support from the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention, and built on the results of a pilot study in six Former Soviet Union countries (supported by the Rotterdam Convention, FAO and the European Union). Kvemo Kartli The focus of the study was the southern region of Kvemo Kartli. This is an area of relatively intense agricultural production and pesticide use, with a high number of seasonal workers. The main crops include grains, vegetables and orchard fruits. Farm sizes are small; 69% of participating farmers have farms under a hectare in size and only 1% farm more than 15 hectares. Issues with Reporting Pesticide Poisoning Incidents Georgia lacks a reporting mechanism for pesticide poisoning incidents. Few people seek medical assistance when a mild, or moderately severe, incident occurs. In order to better understand the scale and nature of pesticide poisoning in Georgia, it was necessary to meet with rural people and explore the circumstances, frequency and severity of these incidents. To this end, PAN UK developed new survey tools, which were tested and modified and then rolled out to 920 farmers and farm workers. • Only 50% of respondents had access to a tap where 20% of respondents who handle pesticides said that they could wash off spills when handling pesticides. they experienced signs and symptoms of pesticide • 21% of farmers and 34% of farm workers stated that poisoning over the previous twelve months, with they sometimes eat, drink or smoke while handling some experiencing symptoms more than five times pesticides. per year. • 17% of women and 7% of men, on occasion, apply pesticides with a broom or brush, rather than suitable equipment. Signs and symptoms include, for example, skin and eye irritation, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, Packaging and labelling weakness, headaches and unusual heart rhythm. The pesticide label is a key source of information on pesticide safety, dosage and use. However, 34% of Poisoning farmers and 52% of farm workers said they had difficulty Activities undertaken at the point of exposure: reading or understanding the label. This was usually due • Mixing or applying the pesticide (most frequent to the label being missing or damaged, or the label being occurrence) in a foreign language. • Harvesting and weeding (skin irritation common) • Leaking backpack sprayer (this severe incident An example of hazardous packaging includes the practice resulted in the farmer receiving a burn to the skin) of selling dimethoate (B58) in glass vials (pictured below). • Several cattle farmers reported incidents relating to the use of pesticides (inappropriately) to control ectoparasites.
Few respondents in Kvemo Kartli were found to follow standard safety procedures: • Only 3% of respondents were found to have had any training on safe handling of pesticides in the last decade. • Only two respondents wore a protective coverall when handling pesticides - 99.8% wore ordinary clothes for this task.
Behavioural and social factors can influence exposure to pesticides. For example, more men were found to handle pesticides than women, with the gender difference even greater among Azeri-speakers than Georgian speakers. On the other hand, 55% of women hand-wash pesticidecontaminated clothing compared to 20% of men. Physiological factors increase the vulnerability of children and women to harm from pesticide exposure. Breastfeeding and expectant mothers, for example, are particularly vulnerable. Female farm workers seem to be at particular risk, with more than half of mothers in the study group, aged 1840, saying they take no extra precautions to avoid pesticide exposure during pregnancy. Given the generally poor standard of safety, this is concerning.
Highly hazardous pesticides
Social factors of pesticide exposure include language. Just 5% of the Azeri-speakers in the study group were found to speak Georgian, with only 1% capable of reading Georgian. This is likely to affect their ability to access safety information.
The study identified the products most commonly used in the survey area and those most associated with selfreported incidents of acute poisoning. The products that caused most concern include lambda cyhalothrin, dimethoate, glyphosate and carbosulfan.
In addition, the difference in response between Azerispeaking farmers and farm workers is striking. A significant number of farm workers (23%) complained of poisoning incidents compared to just 5% of farmers. This raises questions about working conditions for agricultural workers in the area. Farm workers also seemed more likely to engage in risky practices, such as eating, drinking and smoking while applying pesticides.
Response of national authorities
Results of the study were shared with key stakeholders from the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Environmental Protection and Natural Resources at a meeting in October 2016. • The following recommendations were agreed: • A pilot Farmer Field School programme to be established to train farmers in IPM techniques on key crops. • Alternatives to pesticides associated with poisoning incidents to be identified. • Awareness to be raised in order to influence endusers of pesticides and reduce risks. • A national system to be established in order to collect data on pesticide poisoning. • Action to be taken to improve diagnosis and treatment of pesticide poisoning. • Pesticide regulation to be strengthened – particularly in the areas of labelling, tackling counterfeit pesticides, licensing requirements for retailers and container management.
Hazardous pesticides not only exact a high price in terms of human health and the environment, but in economic terms too. A survey of Kvemo Kartli found that 52% of respondents assessed their economic situation as ‘bad’ (‘income/harvested products are only enough for nutrition’) while a further 19% stated that they do not meet their own income or nutritional needs from harvested products. Even small economic losses can have a significant impact on rural livelihoods. The following findings represent economic losses to farmers: • Farmers are wasting resources, encouraging pest resistance, and failing to achieve the desired level of pest control by using the wrong product, dosage or frequency. • Export markets are damaged by using pesticides that are banned in other countries. • Farmers spend an average of 95 GEL (€36.10) per season on the single pesticide they use most, with 1% of farmers spending over 1000 GEL (€380) per year on a single pesticide. • 3% of farmers reported losing days of work due to the effects of pesticides on their health (1-14 days lost in the last 12 months) • 37 incidents of livestock poisoning were reported, including cattle, sheep, chickens, bees and dogs. These can represent significant economic losses.
Following the study, Irma Tskvilinisdze, the Designated National Authority for Georgia, submitted three poisoning incidents to the Rotterdam Convention under Article VI. She has also supported efforts to encourage other countries to engage with these issues and she will be presenting her experience at a side event hosted by PAN UK and the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention at the forthcoming Conference of Parties in May 2017. By Sheila Willis, Head of International Programmes References: 1 Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation, 2012
Find a Video of our Georgia work Online Here
NEW MILLING EQUIPMENT FOR ORGANIC COTTON FARMERS IN BENIN On Tuesday, 28th March 2017, Sheila Willis, PAN UK’s Head of International Programmes, travelled with a group from Obepab to the small village of Aliwou in central Benin. The temperature was around 40 C and it had not rained for weeks. Villagers gathered to meet them and although they were already very familiar with Obepab’s field agent, Dieudonne, they had never had a foreigner in the village before and Sheila enjoyed a very warm welcome.
yards from their home. The women were asked how they plan to use the time saved. They all agreed that they would like to spend more time in the fields, preparing and improving their land and perhaps increasing the area of land under cultivation. The villagers, and their neighbours, will continue to pay for milling their maize and the village assembly will decide how to spend the funds after fuel and maintenance are covered. They have various priorities, including improved access to drinking water, good storage for their cotton crop and they would like to access credit in order to invest in land cultivation early in the season, before they are paid for their cotton crop.
Conversation soon turned to the new milling equipment, which had been delivered a month before (paid for by the Big Lottery Fund). The villagers expressed their happiness at having this opportunity and said that the project brings very real benefits to the village. They showed their visitors the new house they had built for the mill, with an extra room for storage and the mill operator. The young man who is now in charge of the mill is paid from the proceeds of milling. The primary purpose of the milling equipment is to enable the villagers to produce organic, biopesticide from neem seeds. Neem works by discouraging insects from feeding on the cotton and also reduces their fertility, thereby reducing pest numbers. It also affects their behaviour, making pests more vulnerable to predators. The seeds are very hard to grind and doing so is a long and arduous task. The mill can produce large quantities of powdered neem in very little time. This task is undertaken in August/September when neem seeds are available. The rest of the year the mill is cleaned and used for milling maize.
The following day, the group visited the much larger village of Adjigou in the Aklampa area. They have also received new milling equipment, for which they were extremely grateful. The nearest mill was previously a 90 minute walk away. The women said they planned to use the time saved to work their land and sell their produce. The group estimate that they can generate around 5000 CFA per day by charging for grinding maize. Almost half the proceeds will pay for the fuel and the machine operator. Once sufficient money is put aside for maintenance, there will be significant income to contribute to a community fund. In this case, the funds will be allocated according to the wishes of the women’s committee of the organic cotton cooperative. They are thinking of investing in a small shop to sell their organic produce. Like the previous village, priorities also include drinking water; secure storage for their cotton crop and credit to allow them to invest in land preparation. We wish them well.
Previously, the women of the village walked 5 km each way to the nearest grain mill, carrying around 30 kg of maize. They would undertake this back-breaking journey 1-3 times per week. Now, they have a mill just a few
JUNE SNAP ELECTION - IMPLICATIONS FOR PESTICIDE REGULATION IN THE UK To everyone’s surprise, Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a snap General Election on 8th June 2017. Whilst there are obvious questions about the timing, possible outcome and effect on Brexit negotiations, there are new questions now arising about how the outcome will affect the regulation of pesticides in the UK. The direction of travel for pesticide regulation post-Brexit was already very unclear, but now the call for an election, and its possible fallout, has muddied the waters even further. Our relationship with the EU post-Brexit is far from certain and it has yet to confirm which elements of the EU pesticide regulatory framework will be retained once we leave the EU. The Brexit referendum resulted in an upsurge of calls for a weakening of the pesticide regulatory system. Propesticide and pro-GM agitators have been suggesting that leaving the EU is the perfect opportunity to ditch what they view as overly precautionary pesticide regulations currently imposed by Brussels.
A key area of concern for PAN UK is the area of active substance approval. As we have previously noted, in order to do business with the rest of Europe, we will need to meet EU standards in many areas. Active substances and subsequent residues are one such area. Thus, PAN UK is calling on the future government to not only maintain, but to build on the current EU approvals system. To create a standalone UK system would cost a significant amount of money and resources to implement – money and resources that could be better invested in developing environment-friendly farming systems.
If they succeed, this could result in the reintroduction of pesticides banned by the EU for human health or environmental reasons – the most prominent of those being the bee toxic neonicotinoids. The guidelines of the Water Framework Directive could be thrown out, allowing higher levels of pesticides to contaminate our water bodies. Additionally, the levels of pesticide residues in the food we consume could be allowed to increase. Senior politicians have also called for the UK to become a leader in GM, post-EU, with all the related increases in the use of pesticides that we have already seen with the expansion of GM in the USA and elsewhere.
Whatever the outcome of the upcoming election, PAN UK will continue to argue for a more precautionary and robust UK pesticide regime, as we have clearly detailed in our ten-point policy briefing. PAN UK is urging all voters to contact their prospective MPs and ask for assurances that, once elected, they will oppose any moves to weaken environmental – including pesticide – regulations. To send this quick email click here.
On the other hand, we have had assurances from the Prime Minister that the Great Repeal Bill will simply transpose the legislation that we currently operate under from Brussels into UK law. This would include the various pieces of legislation that regulate pesticide approvals and use.
Supporters of Brexit may well have voted for the UK to “take back control” from Brussels, but they did not vote for that control to be simply handed over to the pesticide industry. The next government needs to seize this opportunity, post-Election and post-Brexit, to strengthen our controls on pesticides and lead the way in protecting the health of our citizens and environment.
However, to date, there has been no clear communication on what is going to happen after Brexit and whether the Great Repeal Bill will actually be able to deliver as suggested. There have certainly been no assurances that there will be no weakening of pesticide or environmental legislation. And assurances are what PAN UK is seeking. It is vital that there is no weakening of pesticide regulation in the UK if we are committed to delivering the highest level of protection to our citizens and the environment and developing a sustainable agricultural system that benefits nature.
by Nick Mole, Policy Officer, PAN UK
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO PESTICIDE-FREE TOWNS IN EUROPE The best approach to going without pesticides is one that incorporates a number of different techniques to deal with the variety of situations that are encountered in what are very diverse areas – our towns and cities. Nick Mole, PAN UK's Policy Officer, has summarised some of the many approaches that have been adopted by towns and municipalities in Europe.
Munster has been pesticide-free since 1989, following a decision by the municipal authority to ban the use of pesticides on all land under their control. Since 1990, the area of land that is managed by them has more than doubled, but they have stuck to the pesticide-free approach. What is interesting is that whilst the land area has increased, the number of staff employed to manage the land has decreased. Where they had 150 people employed to manage the city’s green areas in 1990, they now employ approximately 135. They use a variety of mechanical methods for controlling weeds throughout the city’s green areas. These include tractor-mounted weed brushes, hand held weed brushes, hand-held infra-red devices, Ecoflame hot-air drums and a number of blowers. All of these devices combine to ensure that weeds are managed effectively without resorting to the of pesticides.
Copenhagen has had a ban on the use of pesticides since the 1990’s. They are using a variety of different techniques to manage their green spaces effectively. These range from using mulches and other cover systems to suppress weed growth to more mechanical techniques such as flame and steam control.
techniques for green spaces that help to deal with weeds naturally by the judicious use of mulches and plant selection. They also differentiate between areas, looking at how often weeds actually need to be controlled or whether they can just be left. Strasbourg represents a thoroughly joined up approach, with the use of a variety of different techniques being adopted with success.
And, as in other successful pesticide-free areas, they have been actively encouraging the general public to accept and even enjoy the ‘weeds’ that are present. In what is a very forward thinking way of doing things they use mechanical means to control weeds and moss on sports fields. As long as weed growth in such areas does not present any health and safety risk to users, a small amount of ‘weediness’ is tolerated if it has not been effectively dealt with by mechanical means.
A successful pesticide-free approach requires many different techniques in order to succeed. It needs the municipality (council) to be fully behind the idea, willing to try different approaches, and the realisation that this is a long term objective that cannot be achieved overnight. The support of the public is vital. Public awareness and education is a key element of any pesticide-free system.
They have used mechanical brushes, flame weeders, steam and other mechanical methods. At the same time, they have been working to develop planting and layout
This is an edited version of the original article. Please find the full edition on our website at http://www.pan-uk.org/pesticide-free/
In 2008, the city of Strasbourg made the decision to go pesticide-free. Since then they have had to train council workers in the adoption of new techniques as well as encouraging the public to accept greater levels of ‘weediness’. But, they believe that going pesticide-free will help to protect not just the health of the citizens but also of the workers that formally used pesticides for weed control.
PAN NA TAKES EPA BACK TO COURT OVER BRAIN-HARMING PESTICIDE PAN North America, and partners, are taking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back to court over the widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos. EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, recently announced that the agency was reversing course on a planned withdrawal of the chemical, ignoring the findings and recommendations of the agency’s own scientists. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to many health hazards, and is known to be particularly damaging to children’s developing brains. Lawyers at Earthjustice, representing PAN, are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to direct EPA to act within 30 days to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos, based on the agency’s repeated findings that the pesticide is unsafe. PAN’s policy director Kristin Schafer commented on today’s action:
“EPA’s stunning reversal on chlorpyrifos in the face of overpowering scientific evidence of harm to children signals yet another dereliction of duty under the Trump administration. If it takes a court order for EPA to stand up to pressure from Dow’s lobbyists and do right by children and their families, then so be it. In 2012 Bonnie Wirtz, a farmer in Minnesota, was exposed to chlorpyrifos drift from a nearby alfalfa field when she was at home with her infant Jayden. She and Jayden were rushed to the hospital with acute symptoms from the exposure, and began advocating for reduced use of child-harming pesticides across the state.
“This decision by the EPA does not make any sense. We know this pesticide is harming our children and it is the EPA's job to protect us from chemicals like this. The fact that they would put the interests of one chemical corporation over the health of families like mine is frustrating. By leaving this chemical on the market we are gambling with the lives of children and their long term well-being and they have no choice in the matter. That's reckless and heartbreaking.”
PAN EUROPE - BELGIUM INTENDS TO BAN GLYPHOSATE FOR NON-PROFESSIONALS On 27th April, the Agriculture Minister of Belgium, Mr Borsus, announced his intention to ban the placing of glyphosate-based herbicides on the market for all non-professional uses. This decision is based on the application of the precautionary principle and on the fact that alternative methods, that do not put human and environmental health at risk, are widely available. PAN Europe welcomes this decision, which not only ensures a policy coherence among the different authorities (the three Regions of Belgium have already banned the use of glyphosate-based herbicides by private persons), but also sends a strong signal : The domestic use of pesticides belongs in the past! Angeliki Lyssimachou from PAN Europe concludes :
”Glyphosate-based products shouldn’t be available for public use in the first place. Hundreds of studies confirm that glyphosate has an enormous impact on environmental ecosystems and biodiversity, and is dangerous for human and animal health. Glyphosate and other toxic pesticides have no place in our gardens nor in our neighbours’ gardens. We hope that this decision opens the path to ban all dangerous pesticides from use in private gardens and abandon this dangerous, old-fashion model of pest management.”
PAN INTERNATIONAL - PRESS RELEASE Pesticide Action Network International (PAN International) looks forward to the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions from April 24 to May 5, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. We urge the Parties to agree to the listing of the recommended hazardous pesticides and chemicals and to find mechanisms to ensure effective functioning of these treaties. Find the full press release on our website at: http://www.pan-uk.org/press-releases/
NEW REPORT SHOWS GLYPHOSATE PRODUCERS ARE 'BUYING SCIENCE' Monsanto, and other glyphosate manufacturers, appear to have distorted scientific evidence on the public health impacts of glyphosate in order to keep the controversial substance on the market, according to a new report from GLOBAL 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria, member of PAN Europe) with the support of Avaaz, BUND, Campact, CEO, GMWatch, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, PAN Germany, and Umweltinstitut München. Between 2012 and 2016, the companies sponsored a series of review articles published in scientific journals, all of which conclude that glyphosate and its commercial formulations are not harmful to health. The new report, “Buying Science” shows that these industry-sponsored reviews of glyphosate’s carcinogenicity and genotoxicity (ability to damage DNA) contain fundamental scientific flaws. These flaws span from calculated omissions and the introduction of irrelevant data to the violation of OECD guidance for the evaluation of rodent cancer studies. The reviews also consistently assign greater weight to unpublished industry studies than to studies that were peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals. Despite these major defects, regulatory authorities that conclude that glyphosate is not carcinogenic have frequently referred to the arguments provided in these industry-sponsored review articles on glyphosate. Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have all drawn on such review articles. “Glyphosate producers have used every trick in the book to enable regulatory authorities around the world to play down the alarming health effects of glyphosate. The fact that the agencies accepted their 'assistance' is nothing less than scandalous,” says Helmut Burtscher, one of the study’s authors. In contrast, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) cancer research agency (IARC) refused to consider the unpublished industry studies summarised in industry-sponsored reviews in its assessment of glyphosate, stating that the data presented therein were insufficient and important details were lacking. IARC generally does not accept unpublished scientific evidence. The organisations presenting the report today also support the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides. To join them, click here. As part of its stated objectives, the Stop Glyphosate ECI demands that the European Commission “ensures that the scientific evaluation of pesticides for EU regulatory approval is based only on published studies, which are commissioned by competent public authorities using industry money, instead of directly by the pesticide industry.” “Decisions on the future of glyphosate should be guided by IARC’s independent review of the evidence,” Burtscher added.