- September 2006
1. PAN Europe activities
PAN Europe Network Annual Conference and Annual General
Meeting 2006, 7-9 September
In collaboration with SANA, Legambiente and the Italian Organic
Farming Association (AIAB), our Network Annual Conference for members
and other supporters was organised in Bologna, Italy. The conference
was organised at the same time and site as SANA, one of the largest
organic fairs in the world and it was an excellent opportunity to
visit this vibrant fair with hundreds of exhibitors and over 70,000
visitors every year. The central theme for this year’ annual
conference was Integrated Crop Management/Integrated Pest Management
and organic production with experiences from producers, retailers
and consumers, with a special emphasis in Italian/regional examples.
In the Network Annual General Meeting on the 8th September, we welcomed
3 new full members and elected 5 Board members for a 3-year period.
In the field trip organised on the 9th of September, we visited
a large cooperative producing and selling Integrated Pest Management
and organic fruits and vegetables and visited a small family farm
producing a range of fruits using Integrated Pest Management.
Eight hazardous pesticides banned or restricted in
the EU market
After Member States representatives in the EU Standing Committee
on the Food Chain and Animal Health failed to achieve qualified
majority to approve 8 hazardous pesticides in the EU market (azinphos-methyl,
carbendazim, dinocap, fenarimol, flusilazole, methamidophos, procymidone
and vinclozolin) in March 2006, the issue was transmitted to the
Agriculture Council were ministers had to decide on the fate of
the eight substances. In early September, the Agriculture Council
reached a majority to ban two substances (azinphos-methyl and vinclozolin)
but failed to decide on the fate of the remaining six.
Facing the strong opposition of Member States, many of them advocating
for the ban of all the substances, the European Commission had to
change its proposals to approve the substances for a period of 7
years. Under the new Commission proposals, carbendazim and dinocap
were proposed for approval for a 3 year period, whilst fenarimol,
flusilazole, methamidophos and procymidone were proposed for approval
for an 18 months period only. This proposal was discussed at the
Working Group level in the Agriculture Council were Member States
representatives again failed to achieve a majority. Under the rules
laid out for this type of procedure (the Commitology procedure),
if a decision is not reached within a 3 months period from the date
of transmission of the proposal to the Council, the proposal is
With the support of EEB, EEN and FoE Europe, PAN Europe established
contacts with members of the Commission, Council and European Parliament
advocating for the ban of these substances with a derogation period,
if necessary, that would allow farmers to shift towards less hazardous
substances. PAN Europe has also issued several press releases and
sent letters to the members of the European Commission and Council
advocating the ban and the opportunity to get Europe free of these
hazardous substances with benefits for farmers and consumers. Although
PAN Europe campaigned for a total ban, we consider the final outcome
better than the initial proposal to approve all substances for 7
years. With a new Regulation for placing of pesticides in the market
that will exclude carcinogenic, reprotoxic, mutagenic and endocrine
disrupting substances, these substances will likely be banned after
their approval expires in 18 months or 3 years.
2. Published news and information
Approval of active ingredients in EU review
The EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH),
in its meeting of 28-29 September has approved the inclusion of
four existing active ingredients to Annex I: the fungicides captan
(acute toxic, carcinogen) and folpet (carcinogen); the carbamate
insecticides formetanate (cholinesterase inhibitor, acute toxic)
and methiocarb (cholinesterase inhibitor, acute toxic).
Ban of active ingredients in EU review
In the same meeting, the SCFCAH excluded six substances from Annex
I. Five are organophosphorus insecticides from the second-stage
of the review process: malathion (cholinesterase inhibitor, possible
carcinogen, suspected endocrine disruptor), dichlorvos (cholinesterase
inhibitor, carcinogen, acute toxic), trichlorfon (cholinesterase
inhibitor, carcinogen), diazinon (cholinesterase inhibitor), oxydemeton-methyl
(cholinesterase inhibitor, reprotoxic, acute toxic).
The carbamate insecticide carbaryl (cholinesterase inhibitor, carcinogen,
suspected endocrine disruptor), was also excluded from Annex I.
New study shows toxicity of vinclozolin especially
in case of exposure during pregnancy
New research by Washington State University scientists suggests
that a single exposure to the fungicide vinclozolin during pregnancy
can cause cancer, kidney disease and other illnesses for future
generations. Vinclozolin is a dicarboximide non-systemic fungicide
that inhibits fungal spore generation and is commonly used in vines.
In Europe, it was one of the eight extremely hazardous pesticides
under review that could not get an agreement by Member States but
was finally banned. It is banned in a number of EU countries including
Denmark and Sweden.
In the research, pregnant rats were exposed to high levels of vinclozolin.
In male offspring and three subsequent male generations of the rats,
85 percent of the animals developed cancer, prostate disease, kidney
disease, premature aging or other problems. Most of the rats developed
more than one illness. The research was published in two papers
in the journal Endocrinology.
The new research suggests that environmental pollution could permanently
reprogram genetic traits in a family line, creating a legacy of
sickness. It follows previous studies that showed similar long-term
effects from chemicals on the reproductive systems of successive
generations. Although this is an animal study its relevance for
humans should not be dismissed and calls for the precautionary principle
in pesticides approval.
Lifestyles blamed for 17 percent rise in childhood
Cancer is rising rapidly among children across Europe with up
to 17 percent of cases resulted from modern lifestyles and changes
in the environment, researchers have found. In a study, researchers
examined 77,111 cases of cancer in children diagnosed between 1978
and 1997 in 15 European countries. The results showed that the number
of cases of cancer in children under 14 rose by an average of 1.1
percent a year. There were increases in most childhood cancers including
brain tumours, testicular cancer, leukaemia, kidney cancer and soft
tissue sarcoma (cancer of connective tissue). The study results
showed no increase in bone cancer, liver cancer or retinoblastoma.
Although the increased incidence can only partly be explained by
changes in diagnostic methods and by registration artefacts, factors
such as changes in lifestyle and exposure to a variety of agents
have contributed to the increase, according to the findings. Eva
Steliarova-Foucher, a senior epidemiologist at the International
Agency for Cancer Research in Lyon, France, and an author of the
study, was quoted as saying: "The rise may be partly due to
better detection but not wholly. Other studies have shown older
mothers have an increased incidence of leukaemia and certain other
cancers in their children." Potential causes of childhood cancer
are also suspected to be environmental toxins including pesticides
and phthalates in plastics, the researchers said.
Changes in Agricultural Policy Needed to Halt Loss
of Farmland Birds
Previous studies have shown a significant decline in populations
of farmland birds across Europe attributed to a general process
of agricultural intensification, including pesticide use. Farmland
birds rely greatly on farmland for food and nesting sites. Therefore,
changes in farming practices such as increased levels of mechanisation
and chemical use or the spread of monocultures, associated with
agricultural intensification, are believed to have important impacts
on bird populations.
A recent study has analysed a comprehensive database of the population
size and trend for each breeding species in each country in Europe
for the period 1990-2000 in order to assess recent trends in farmland
bird biodiversity. Furthermore, the authors assessed the possible
implications of current European agricultural policy on the protection
of farmland biodiversity. The results provide evidence that the
previously documented decline in farmland bird populations across
Europe between 1970 and 1990 continued in the period 1990-2000,
thus confirming a continent-wide pattern of decline over at least
The authors found a strong correlation between the declining trends
in farmland species and certain agriculture intensification indices.
This and the lack of such correlation among species of non-farmland
birds, point to farming intensification as one of the most plausible
drivers of the decline.
According to the authors, the agri-environment schemes represent,
for the moment, the only available mechanism for reducing the decline
in farmland biodiversity. Furthermore, they are of vital importance
if the 2010 targets to reduce or halt biodiversity loss are to be
met. But agri-environmental measures correspond to only 5% of Common
Agriculture Policy subsidies. In addition to targeted agri-environmental
schemes, other changes in agricultural policy, especially the removal
of subsidies that lead to agricultural identification, are necessary
to ensure the conservation of farmland biodiversity on a large scale.
Asthmatics at greater risk from pesticide induced lymphoma
Researchers have found evidence that asthma sufferers exposed to
pesticides have a greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma that do non-asthmatics exposed to similar levels of pesticides.
The study compared 668 cancer sufferers with 543 people without
the disease analysing their employment history to assess their occupational
exposure to pesticides. The analysis revealed that asthmatics were
almost twice as likely to develop this form of cancer after exposure
to pesticides as non-asthmatics. Asthmatics who had been hospitalised
for their condition and therefore were likely to be more severely
affected were more than twice as likely to be more severely affected
were more than twice as likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
after pesticides exposure.
Previous studies had already shown that people who have been exposed
to pesticides are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
and are more likely to have disorders of the immune system such
Majority of surface and groundwater in France is polluted
Pesticide residues continue to be found in the majority of French
water samples, according to the latest “Pesticides in water”
report published by the French Environmental Institute. The recently
published 2003/04 surveys 10,000 monitoring points found that 96%
of surface water and 61% of groundwater samples contain residues
of at least one pesticide. Almost one third of all pesticides were
found in concentrations exceeding the threshold for human consumption
From a total of 459 substances tested, 229 substances were found
in surface water. In groundwater, from a total of 417 substances
tested, 166 substances were identified. The most commonly found
substances were triazine herbicides, although most of these substances
were banned in 2003, with the remainder being phased out in 2004.
Other banned substances with severe hazards and from the dirty dozen
list such as lindane, aldrine or dieldrine have also been detected
frequently. The findings show that contaminations persist long after
the substances have been banned.
3. News from PAN Europe partners
NGOs and experts demand that WHO stops the irresponsible
promotion of DDT spraying
A broad coalition of health and toxics experts from every continent
called on the World Health Organization to reverse its aggressive
promotion of DDT for malaria control and expressed outrage at the
agency for a statement giving DDT spraying inside people’s
homes a "clean bill of health."
"It is criminal that WHO should make a politically-motivated
announcement like this under the guise of protecting the health
of children in Africa," said Dr. Paul Saoke, Director of Physicians
for Social Responsibility in Kenya. "We need real solutions
to malaria in Africa, not a return to widespread reliance on a failed
silver bullet that risks the health of communities already battling
this deadly disease."
WHO’s September 15th press statement described a "new"
approach to malaria control with DDT at the centrepiece of an aggressive
effort to eradicate the disease. Sources inside the agency, however,
report that there has been no reassessment of DDT risk and no official
revision of WHO’s policy, which already allowed minimal use
of DDT in accordance with the global Stockholm Convention. One of
WHO’s chief malaria experts, Dr. Allan Schapira, resigned
abruptly prior to the announcement promoting DDT use by the controversial
new head of WHO’s global malaria program, Dr. Arata Kochi.
Roughly half of the Roll Back Malaria staff has reportedly resigned
since Kochi took over leadership of the program.
In their announcement before hundreds of government officials at
the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety in Budapest, Hungary,
Pesticide Action Network International, the International POPs Elimination
Network and the International Society of Doctors for the Environment
emphasized their support for the Stockholm Convention’s approach
to DDT. The global toxics treaty, which has been adopted by 129
countries, calls for a phase-out of DDT but allows short term use
in some countries while safer and more effective alternatives are
put in place.
Decades of scientific evidence counter the claims of the DDT promoters
that its use for malaria control is harmless. Human reproductive
disorders associated with DDT are well documented, including undescended
testes and poor sperm quality, premature delivery and reduced infant
birth weights and reduced breast milk production. One recent study
found clear neurological effects—including developmental delays—among
babies and toddlers exposed to DDT in the womb Researchers in Mexico
and South Africa found elevated levels of DDT in the blood of people
living where DDT was used to control malaria, and breastfed children
in those areas received more DDT than the amount considered "safe"
by WHO and FAO. Studies have also linked exposure to increased risk
of breast cancer, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer
lists DDT as a possible human carcinogen.
More effective and safer approaches to malaria control are now
being used in many countries. For example, Vietnam reduced malaria
deaths by 97% and malaria cases by 59% when they switched in 1991
from trying to eradicate malaria using DDT to a DDT-free malaria
control program involving distribution of drugs and mosquito nets
and widespread health education organized with village leaders.
Mexico phased out DDT use in 2000 and implemented a successful integrated
and community-based approach.
Chain of contamination: the food link
Industrial chemicals have been found in food consumed all over
Europe, from dairy products to meat and fish. The same cocktail
of hazardous chemicals has been detected in human blood, wildlife
and the environment, indicating that food is a crucial link in a
global chain of contamination that begins with the manufacture of
chemicals and ends with their unwelcome appearance in our blood.
The new report entitled “Chain of contamination: the food
link", released by WWF, is a snapshot of chemical contamination
of the food chain. Food is one of the most important routes for
human exposure to pollutants, notably the ones that persist and
accumulate in the environment, such as DDT, PCBs and brominated
flame retardants. But chemicals also enter the environment in many
other ways: as a result of leakages during manufacture, transport
or storage, direct applications and a wide variety of uses in products
such as computers, TVs, toiletries. For this study, 27 samples of
different food items - dairy products (i.e. milk, butter, and cheese),
meat (i.e. sausages, bacon, chicken breasts, ham, and salami), fish
(i.e. salmon, tuna), bread, honey and olive oil - were purchased
in supermarkets in 7 EU countries (UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, Sweden,
Finland, Poland). The samples were analysed for 8 different groups
of man-made chemicals - organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, brominated
flame retardants, perfluorinated chemicals, phthalates, organotins,
alkylphenols and artificial musks.
The food testing results found potentially harmful synthetic chemicals
in all of the analysed foods, ranging from phthalates in olive oil,
cheeses and meats, banned organochlorine pesticides in fish and
reindeer meat, artificial musks and organotins in fish and flame
retardants in meats and cheeses. WWF is seriously concerned over
the potential effects of long term, low levels exposure to chemicals
in the diet, especially on the developing foetus, infants and young
children. As Professor Jan-Åke Gustafsson, coordinator of
the CASCADE scientific network explains: "Being at the top
of the food chain, humans are particularly exposed to chemicals
in food. As some of these chemicals are similar to hormones, they
interfere with our endocrine system and may be a risk factor for
diseases like obesity, different forms of cancer and diabetes as
well as reduced fertility".
Second International Congress of the Paris Appeal,
“Environment and Sustainable Health: an International Assessment”,
9 November 2006
The congress is being organized by the Association for Research
and Treatments Against Cancer (ARTAC), in partnership with HEAL-
Health and Environment Alliance and Collaborative on Health and
The Paris Appeal, an international declaration on disease due to
chemical pollution, has been signed by more than one thousand key
scientific and medical personalities and by 200,000 European citizens.
It is also supported by the Standing Committee of European Doctors
which represents all medical doctors (i.e. 2 million) in the 25
members States of the European Union. The aim of the second congress
of this Appeal is to present to European authorities a Memorandum
outlining concrete recommendations and measures established by international
independent scientific experts. This Memorandum aims to promote
the notion of “sustainable health”, that is, improving
health and preserving future generations.
Pesticide Action Network UK work on residues in food
Pesticides are present in many of the foods that we regularly
eat, but we can’t see them or taste them and so they are hard
to avoid. Surveys of consumers regularly show that most people would
prefer to eat food without pesticide residues.
PAN UK has developed new web pages on pesticide residues in food
to provide information and answers to questions that are posed by
many of consumers today trying to make the right choices: How do
we know which foods have the most pesticides on them? How safe are
they? What can we do to reduce our intake of pesticides? Which pesticides
are most likely to occur and what hazards do they pose?
PAN UK has also published an alternative interpretation of the
UK’s residues monitoring programme: “The alternatives
pesticide residues report-2005. What the government doesn’t
tell us”. Over last 12 months, the UK Pesticide Residues Committee
(PRC) has published the results of their residues testing programme
for 2005. As with previous years, they report on the numbers of
samples that contain pesticides, the numbers that exceed legal residue
limits and mention briefly the risk assessments for health implications.
Their quarterly reports for 2005 contain a huge amount of data but
it lacks analysis of health consequences and other important information
for consumers. The PAN UK report conducts and independent analysis
of the 2005 data and highlights some of the issues that are important
This PAN Europe Newsletter was compiled by Sofia Parente
Contributions are welcome from PAN Europe network members, PURE
supporters and individuals.