PESTICIDE NEWS The Journal of Pesticide Action Network UK
An international perspective on the health and environmental effects of pesticides
Food for Thought: A new report highlights the issue of pesticides in the government's School Fruit & Veg Scheme ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: • uk exports banned pesticide to developing countries • epa reverses planned ban on chlorpyrifos
NEW PAN UK REPORT GIVES UK GOVERNMENT 'FOOD FOR THOUGHT' “While the intake of fruit and vegetables should not be decreased, existing studies support the ideal of reduced dietary exposure to pesticide residues, especially among pregnant women and children.” Report from the European Parliament, December 2016
As children returned to school on 5th
PAN UK analysed the results of government testing of pesticide residues found in produce given out through the SFVS between 2005 and 2016. A pesticide residue is the detectable trace of any pesticide that remains on or in food. Due to the systemic nature of many pesticides, residues can be contained within the body of the produce itself and therefore washing the surface won’t remove them.
September, PAN UK launched a new report - Food for Thought - looking at pesticide residues in produce given to young children across England as part of the Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS). Our findings were covered widely by British newspapers, including the Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Sun, and reached hundreds of thousands of people online.
Findings reveal 123 pesticides
The report revealed how children in England are being exposed to a cocktail of pesticide residues in the fresh produce they receive through the scheme, which is designed to encourage healthy eating habits.
Our research revealed that the produce being provided to children through the scheme generally contains more pesticide residues than their mainstream equivalents. For example, in 2015, 90% of SFVS apples given out in schools contained the residues of multiple pesticides, while for conventional apples found on the supermarket shelves this figure was just under 60%.
The pesticides detected have documented potential to harm human health, especially the health of young children who are particularly vulnerable to their impacts.
Banned pesticide, chlorpyrifos, found in 20% of samples
The SFVS launched across England in 2004 and reaches approximately 2.3 million children. It is funded by the Department of Health, costing £40 million per year to provide every four to six-year-old with one item of fruit or vegetable every day of the school year. The scheme is undoubtedly well-intentioned and PAN UK is extremely supportive of its objective to provide children with one of their ‘5-a-day’, despite our concerns about pesticide residues present in the produce. 2
In total, PAN UK found residues of 123 different pesticides, including 43 suspected endocrine (hormone system) disruptors. Imazalil, a ‘probable carcinogen’ and developmental toxin, was the most frequently detected pesticide. Second most frequent, and present in a fifth of all samples, was chlorpyrifos, a pesticide which has almost no permitted uses in the UK. It is well documented to have negative impacts on children’s cognitive development.
Effects of multiple pesticides
Of the 2238 samples tested by the government, two-thirds contained residues of multiple pesticides and large numbers of different residues were detected in individual samples. One sample of apples from 2016 was found to contain the residues of eleven different pesticides. Despite the possibility for these multiple substances to interact with each other, there has been little research into the combinatory effects of exposure to pesticides. Maximum Residue Levels – legal permitted limits supposedly always set below levels that could harm human health – are only set for individual pesticides. In reality, we know very little about the impacts of the wide variety of chemicals we are exposing our children to on a daily basis.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
1p per child per day for organic
For just over 1p extra per child per day, all produce in the scheme could be sourced from organic farmers. This would better protect children’s health and also support the growth of the British organic sector. Switching the scheme to organic produce should be done as soon as possible given the ever-growing body of evidence showing that children are one of the groups most vulnerable to the impacts of pesticides. Their bodies are still forming and pesticide exposure can interfere with the development of particular organs.
Effects on children's health
The capacity of children’s bodies to break down toxins from their systems is far less developed than that of adults. Endocrine disruptors are of particular concern for children’s health since they have been associated with the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder and cognitive and brain development problems. We should therefore be taking a precautionary approach and reducing our children’s exposure to pesticides whenever possible. But instead, we are giving them produce that is generally worse in terms of pesticide residues than you find in supermarkets. www.pan-uk.org
'Food for Thought' (continued...) PAN UK is in no way trying to be alarmist by publishing this research. Rather we are aiming to provide the public, in particular parents, with information that can help them make informed decisions. We also hope that parents and other concerned members of the public will use this information to lobby the UK government to do more to protect children from pesticides.
With Brexit looming, the UK has a choice. We can lower our pesticide standards, thereby increasing our exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Or we can use Brexit as an opportunity to move away from pesticides and instead increase support to British organic farmers. This would better protect human health and enable a genuinely-sustainable agriculture sector to flourish.
What needs to change?
To access the full ‘Food for Thought’ report and take action visit: http://www.pan-uk.org/food-for-thought
For many years PAN UK has been trying to get the issue of pesticides on the radar of the Department of Health and there is clearly a role for it to play in reducing the health impacts of pesticides. In the first instance, we would like to see a commitment that all produce supplied through the SFVS will be sourced from organic farmers or those taking concrete steps to reduce their pesticide use.
To learn more about PAN UK’s Brexit campaign visit: http://www.pan-uk.org/uk-policy References:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/ etudes/STUD/2016/581922/EPRS_ STU(2016)581922_EN.pdf 1
TAKE ACTION 4
UK EXPORTS BANNED PESTICIDE TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Image courtesy of Renato A. Mabilin / Public Eye
Paraquat is one of the most toxic pesticides in the world. It causes thousands of acute poisonings each year and is linked to several chronic illnesses, including Parkinson's disease.1
rest of the world. Paraquat is only exported as an active ingredient. It is then formulated in the importing countries.
It was first introduced onto the market in 1962 and has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “the only highly toxic herbicide of the post-war years”. It is on PAN International’s list of highly hazardous pesticides2 because of its acute toxicity and has been banned in the EU since 2007.
As a banned pesticide, paraquat falls under the European Union’s Prior Informed Consent regulation4 and is subject to an export notification procedure5. Although some of this data is publicly available, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) does not disclose the names of companies and volumes exported. Recently, for the first time, a right to information request granted Public Eye access to this restricted data.
The fact that the UK is exporting paraquat to the rest of the world was reported in the New York Times3 as recently as December 2016. Syngenta, the largest company in the agrochemical market and the main manufacturer of paraquat, has a manufacturing plant in Huddersfield, from where it then exports the product to the
UK exports 41 000 tons of paraquat each year 5
Banned pesticide exported by the UK (continued...) 185 exports of paraquat from the EU have been registered since 2010. Of these, 137 exports originated from the UK, with the remaining 48 originating from Belgium. Since 2015, all EU exports of paraquat have come from the UK. 100 % of UK paraquat exports are from Syngenta.
In a recent report to the Human Rights Council10, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Toxic Wastes and the Right to Food stated that "to subject individuals of other nations to toxins known to cause major health damage or fatality is a clear human rights violation". They called on countries to "remove existing In terms of volume, an annual average of double standards among countries that are 41 000 tons of paraquat was exported from particularly detrimental to countries with the UK in 2015, 2016 and 2017. This makes weaker regulatory systems". They recall the UK the second largest exporter of that "pesticides are responsible for an paraquat in the world, behind China with estimated 200 000 acute poisoning over 160 000 tons a year6. deaths each year, 99 % of which occur in developing countries, where health, 61 % of UK paraquat exports go to safety and environmental regulations are developing countries. weaker and less strictly applied". Brazil ranks first, importing 22 % of the total The UK should take the lead and end this volume (an average of 9 000 tons a year), shocking double-standard. Pesticides that followed by Mexico (10 %, 4 200 tons/year), are considered too dangerous for use in the Indonesia (8 %, 9 500 tons/year), Guatemala UK should not be allowed to be produced (7 %, 8 100 tons/year) and India (4 %, 4 500 and exported to other countries. tons/year). The US imports 36 % of the total volume, an average of 15 000 tons per year. References: 1 https://www.publiceye.ch/fileadmin/files/documents/ The high volumes of paraquat exported Syngenta/Paraquat/PE_Paraquat_2-17_def.pdf to Brazil is probably linked to the rise of 2 http://www.pan-germany.org/download/PAN_HHP_ glyphosate-resistant super weeds. Paraquat List_161212_F.pdf is now increasingly used as an alternative to 3 https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/business/paraquatglyphosate, especially in soy cultivation. weed-killer-pesticide.html?mcubz=0 https://echa.europa.eu/regulations/prior-informed-consentregulation 4
The UK is not alone. China recently announced a ban on the sales and use of paraquat by 20207, but is the main exporter of paraquat worldwide. Switzerland was recently accused of exporting atrazine and paraquat to developing countries, while both pesticides are banned within its own borders8. France has also faced criticism for allowing exports of atrazine9 which has been banned in the European Union since 2004. It is a known endocrine disruptor and contaminates drinking water.
https://echa.europa.eu/regulations/prior-informed-consent/ export-notification-procedure 5
http://www.cnchemicals.com/Press/89866-China%20 about%20to%20ban%20all%20sales%20and%20use%20of%20 paraquat%20by%202020.html 7
https://www.publiceye.ch/en/media/press-release/ switzerland_is_exporting_banned_pesticides_to_ developing_countries/ 8
http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2017/05/29/ la-france-exporte-un-pesticide-interdit-vers-les-pays-endeveloppement_5135195_3244.html 9
http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/ HRC/34/48 10
Written by Laurent Gaberell, Director of Agriculture, Biodiversity and Intellectual Property at Swiss NGO Public Eye 6
NEW EPA REVERSES PLANNED CHLORPYRIFOS BAN IN THE US Medha Chandra is PAN North America's Campaign Coordinator. Her work focuses on pesticide impacts on maternal and children’s health as well as international pesticide campaigns. She works closely with network members from other PAN regional centres around the world. Follow @ChandraMedha
The organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos was banned from residential use in the US more than 17 years ago because of its toxicity, particularly for children. But an estimated seven million pounds of the chemical continues to be used in food production across the country each year. Families and teachers in rural communities, public health experts and activists across the US have been trying for years to get this pesticide banned. And in response to a 2007 lawsuit by PAN North America and our partners, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was poised to withdraw all use in food production of this neurotoxic chemical in March 2017. However, under the new administration, with Scott Pruitt at the helm, EPA refused to finalize the planned ban, claiming the science is “unresolved,”1 and announced it would study the issue until 2022. That decision came weeks after Administrator Pruitt met secretly with the head of chlorpyrifos manufacturer Dow Chemical.2
have raised concerns about continued use of this pesticide, summarised in this recent statement:
“Multiple epidemiological and toxicological studies indicate that children who have had in-utero exposure to organophosphate pesticides such as chlorpyrifos in both urban and Well-documented health harms The hazards of chlorpyrifos3 are well known, agricultural settings are at increased risk for abnormal neurodevelopment backed by a compelling body of rigorous, with persistent loss of intelligence and peer-reviewed scientific studies4. abnormalities of behavior.” Even at extremely low levels, prenatal and early childhood exposures to chlorpyrifos In addition to developmental harms, onare associated with long-lasting effects, the-job farmworker exposures are also including poorer perceptual reasoning, known to be problematic, as illustrated working memory and intellectual by several recent cases in California of development. Several studies suggest that the risks of children developing autism5 and chlorpyrifos drifting from nearby fields and sending dozens of workers to the hospital6, ADHD go up significantly with prenatal some fainting and vomiting. exposure to the pesticide. Health professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
US ban on chlorpyrifos (continued...) EPA: Too slow, too compromised
public schools to protect children from While EPA continues to ‘debate’ the science exposure to health harming pesticides, and relies on faulty industry-backed studies, and state officials are considering further restrictions on chlorpyrifos. Minnesota vulnerable populations like children and legislators recently introduced a resolution farmworkers continue to be exposed to ban the chemical, a similar bill is being to chlorpyrifos through pesticide drift, contaminated water and residues found on considered in New Jersey, and attorney common foods such as grapes, strawberries, generals in seven states have joined legal action10 against EPA’s reversal of the broccoli and oranges. planned ban. EPA’s about-face on a pesticide that had There are proven alternatives to using been deemed unsafe by the agency's own chlorpyrifos — and many innovative U.S. scientists marks a clear prioritization of farmers have already eliminated their use short-term profits for one corporation — Dow Chemical — over the health of millions of chlorpyrifos and reduced reliance on other harmful pesticides by adopting more of children across the country. Dr Philip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health sustainable pest management practices11 that are both effective and financially viable. and Pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Hospital, said 7 this about the controversial EPA decision : Whether it’s leaders in Congress, the states, “I think this is a very unfortunate decision. or a much-needed about-face at EPA, U.S. policymakers must put human health over Not only is it scientifically wrong but corporate profits and ban chlorpyrifos once it's also morally wrong. And it shows a and for all. Our children deserve no less. blatant disregard for a very strong body of science." References: 1 https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-03/ documents/chlorpyrifos3b_order_denying_panna_and_ nrdc27s_petitition_to_revoke_tolerances.pdf
Congress, states filling the leadership gap Tired of waiting for EPA to take action, in July 2017 US federal legislators introduced bills to ban chlorpyrifos in both the House and Senate. The bills were unveiled in the presence of more than thirty representatives8 from health, labour and civil rights organizations from across the country who urged officials to support the bill and protect the health of the millions of workers and children exposed to chlorpyrifos every year.
http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/legbills/pesticide_use_near_ schools.pdf 9
States are also stepping up. In California, due to community pressure the state has proposed setting up buffer zones9 around
PAN UK appreciates any support you can provide 8