July - August 2004
1. PAN Europe activities
Annual Network conference, 12-13 November 2004
In collaboration with Friends of the Earth Barcelona we will be holding our annual network conference for members and other supporters Friday 12 – Saturday 13 November 2004 in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain. Both the Catalan Regional Government’s Department of Environment and the Barcelona local government are generously supporting much of the conference logistics. PAN-E members will also be serving as resource people for the technical seminar for Spanish professionals on Best European Practice in Pesticide and Chemical Control 15-16 November, organised by FoE Barcelona.
The aim of our conference this year is to build capacity among NGOs for promoting practical strategies for reducing dependency on pesticides and on chemicals in general. The conference will allow participants to discuss the achievements and limitations of different government initiatives and to share experiences on useful NGO strategies to influence the political and media agenda at national and European levels. The draft programme will be posted on our website in early September. We can confirm that Dr Nicolas Olea, a Spanish expert on endocrine disruption, will be one of our keynote speakers. Participants will also hear about the dozens of cases of permanent disability suffered by workers, notably cleaning staff, related to exposure to neurotoxic and endocrine-disrupting pesticides used in urban environments in Barcelona, the links with other harmful chemicals, and the efforts to seek compensation and promote integrated approaches to urban pest control. The conference outline programme and registration form for those attending from outside Spain will be posted on our website by 23 September. Early registration is recommended as spaces are limited.
Pesticide Use Reduction in Europe (PURE) Campaign:
PAN Europe Board members have held a series of meetings with Commission officials from Environment, Health & Consumer Protection, Agriculture, Eurostat (statistics) and Economics & Finance (taxation) over the summer, in order to present our arguments for concrete targets and legally-binding measures for pesticide use reduction in the context of the forthcoming Thematic Strategy for a sustainable use of pesticides. The Commission will publish its proposed strategy this autumn, for debate by Parliament and the Council of Ministers late 2004 and early 2005. Look out for news of our autumn activities related to PURE on our website.
2. Published news and information
Latest EU residue monitoring report highlights increasing problems
In the latest data available (from 2002) on average, pesticide residues were found in 42% of samples, with 5.1% of total samples containing more than the permitted national or EU-wide Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for a specific pesticide in a particular food. Eight of the ten most commonly found pesticides in fresh produce in all 18 countries in the monitoring programme are classified as PANNA Bad Actor chemicals, as are five found most often in cereals. The latest data reveal a disturbing increase in residue occurrence: the frequency of samples exceeding MRLs increased from 3.0% in 1996 to 5.5% in 2002. Multiple residues are also found more often- an increase from 14% in 1999 to 20.7% in 2002, in particular, a rise in samples containing four or more pesticide residues.
The EC 2002 co-ordinated monitoring with Member States studied 41 pesticides in pears, bananas, beans, potatoes, carrots, oranges/mandarins, peaches/nectarines and spinach. Residues at or below MRLs were found in 44% of samples (most frequently in oranges/mandarins), and exceeded MRLs in 3.3% (most frequently in spinach). Most frequently detected compounds in this co-ordinated monitoring were: imazalil; thiabendazole; chlorpyrifos; maneb group; benomyl group and methidathion. Detections of chlorpyrifos. maneb and benomyl groups doubled in 2002, compared with earlier years. Chlorpyrifos is a nerve toxin, maneb fungicides are suspected probable carcinogens and disruptors of the hormone system, and benomyl associated with birth defects.
Commission slams nine Member States over lack of action on methyl bromide
In July, the European Commission sent written warnings to nine MS for failing to inform the EU of actions to limit the use of this fumigant. Methyl bromide is being phased out at EU level on account of its ozone-depleting impacts. Under EU law, national governments must report annually the exact amounts used, for which purposes and activities undertaken to reduce dependency on this pesticide. Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK have either not reported or reported inadequately. Neither France nor Ireland had reported any information for 2001, 2002 or 2003.
EU wants to expand POPs lists
Nine more chemicals should be added to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants list of 16 substances linked to birth defects and death, announced the European Commission in August. The UNECE Protocol is more ambitious than the POPS or Stockholm Convention, which entered into force earlier this year, and already includes the insecticides chlordecone and HCH (including lindane),which the Commission wants added to the Stockholm list. Amongst the additional industrial chemicals proposed for both lists is pentachlorobenzene, also used as a fungicide.
New Member States struggle with EU pesticide laws
Compliance with EU pesticide legislation remains a challenge for many new Member States. Resources are limited for all countries but existing pesticide controls and laws varied widely before Accession in May 2004. For example, the task of approving pesticide products was completely new for the Baltic states, which previously had received these authorisations centrally from Moscow. The Estonian authorities had to set up an entirely new system. All new Member States laws are now compliant with EU pesticides authorisation directive 91/414, but the problems lie in implementing the legislation. The Baltic states, which have modelled their new systems on the Scandinavian approach, and Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus are the most advanced, while some of the CEE countries with huge agricultural economies have encountered major problems and delays. Governmental work has focussed on pesticide authorisation so far, with little attention yet to other important EU legislation relevant to pesticides, including the Water Framework Directive and the Biocides Directive, for non-agricultural pesticides. Bulgaria and Romania, due to join the EU in 2007, are also taking steps to harmonise their legislation in time.
New Member States join in EU review process of pesticide approvals
The new EU members will now be involved in the decision-making process for active ingredients, serving as Rapporteur Member States (RMS) for certain active ingredients in the fourth round of the EU review of pesticides process. This round comprises around 200 active ingredients, including many plant extracts, pheromones, commodity chemicals, micro-organisms, fumigants and rodenticides (some of which will also be reviewed as biocides too). Companies wishing to gain EU-wide registration need to submit dossiers by July or December 2005, according to substance group. The list of RMS is now published for round 4 substances or organisms, for example, Poland will be reporting on garlic extract, Latvia on tea tree extract, and Estonia on the fungal biopesticide Streptomyces griseoviridis. In this round of re-registration, each subgroup of compounds is allocated to one or more specific countries as lead rapporteur, in a coordinating role. The UK will lead on the review of plant extracts, Netherlands and Sweden on microbiological organisms used for pest control, and Germany on fumigants and rodenticides. EU adjusts ai review for new member states.
Dramatic rise in brain diseases linked to multiple pollution
A new study by Bournemouth University, UK, tracks changes in a number of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease in Western countries in the last two decades. The data, taken from UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, US, Canada, Australia and Japan during 1979-1997, shows that rates of dementia in men have trebled, and this rise is linked by the authors to increasing levels of pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhaust fumes and other pollutants. Professor Colin Pritchard ruled out genetic causes and said it was most likely due to chemicals used in almost every aspect of modern life. He also highlighted food as a major concern, since Japanese people only show increased brain disease rates when they move to other countries. The report stresses the multiple interactions of combinations of chemicals rather than one single cause, and our lack of knowledge on these interactions.
Danish research on pesticide impacts on aquatic ecosystems
A new report describes effects of a range of pesticides on bottom-dwelling microscopic algae communities and representative invertebrate animals in Danish streams. The pyrethroid esfenvalerate was by far the most toxic of the investigated pesticides. Investigations of invertebrate drift following exposure to esfenvalerate showed effect concentrations between 0.2 and 20 nanograms per litre (0.2-20 parts per billion) with the freshwater shrimp Gammarus pulex as clearly the most sensitive of the tested species. Under spate conditions concentrations up to 660 ng/l have been measured in Danish streams. The authors believe, that with such low effect concentrations even after brief exposures and the widespread effects on vital processes such as survival, reproduction and behaviour, pyrethroids present the greatest pesticide threat to invertebrate fauna in Danish streams.
Effekt af bekæmpelsesmidler på flora og fauna i vandløb. Bekæmpelsesmiddelforskning fra Miljøstyrelsen, Nr. 82, Danish Ministry for the Environment, 2004.
PAN-E partner, the Danish Ecological Council, comments that esfenvalerate was banned in Danish agriculture and horticulture in 2000, but was approved across the EU in 2000 although Denmark voted against its inclusion in Annex I of Directive 91/414. This new report provides strong evidence that esfenvalerate should never have been given EU-wide approval, because it poses such a threat to invertebrate populations in streams.
Denmark estimates huge savings in health costs from implementing REACH
The Danish Environment Ministry has calculated socio-economic benefits of 90-707 million euros to the country over a 30 year period from implementing the proposed EU chemicals regulation policy known as REACH. The estimate includes money saved in direct costs related to medical treatment, especially for occupational cancers and contact allergies, as well as indirect costs of lost production and individual well-being, from preventative action to control exposure to chemical agents of disease. Last year the European Commission estimated public health savings across Europe at up to ?50 million over the same period.
Winter lettuce continues to pose residue problem in UK
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs published results of a monitoring programme to look at residue levels and use of illegal pesticides, sampling from growers, nurseries and retail outlets. Over 8% of samples contained residues over the Maximum Residue Level, while 5.6% contained residues of non-approved pesticides. The report concludes that managing pesticide use on winter-grown UK lettuce, which is prone to fungal attack, continues to prove difficult, although residues of methyl bromide, a problem in earlier monitoring, had reduced significantly.
Fish affected by large amounts of sex change chemicals in English rivers
A recent study by Exeter University on behalf of the UK Environment Agency has found that one third of male fish are growing female reproductive tissue and organs as a result of chemical pollution in the water. The report authors blame the sexual disruptions observed on the increasing use of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, found in plastics, detergents, paints, pesticides, alklyl-phenolic compounds, steroids and the contraceptive pill. These chemicals are often discharged into rivers through sewage works. The findings raises fears for future fish population growth as well as the health of other wildlife and humans, including potential for hormone-dependent cancers.
Edie weekly summaries 30/07/2004 http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/8678.cfm
First UK local authority opts for non-chemical weed control
Pembrokeshire County Council in Wales is the first in Britain to use an environmentally-friendly method of using heat to kill weeds. The Waipuna weed control system controls weeds by using biodegradable organic hot foam heated to over 90 degrees. Pembrokeshire’s cabinet member for the environment highlighted that the technology is very accurate in dealing with a variety of weeds and can be safely used in parks and play areas, allowing the public to enter treated areas after only a few minutes.
Finnish pesticide sales rise in 2003
Agrochemical sales in Finland rose by 2.1% last year to 59.2 million euros, and a 3 % increase in tonnage of active ingredients sold, to 1,682t. Herbicides account for 70% of total sales of formulated products. Zero tillage farming systems have caused an increase in weeds and plant diseases. Certain perennial weeds that are hard to eradicate with newer low-dose herbicides have multiplied, so farmers are turning to phenoxy herbicides, according to the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture. The two most important active ingredients used in Finland are the herbicides glyphosate and MCPA, accounting for 60% of total ai volume sold. Indoor insecticides and rodenticides sales amounted to 5.7million euros.
Suburban use of herbicides endangers quality of French river water
Herbicide use in two semi-urban catchment areas in France was studied for the period April-July 1998. The Morbras and Reveillon rivers, south-east of Paris, were selected and surveys made with pesticide users in households, golf courses, forests, parks, railways, roads and municipal services. Over 60 active ingredients were reported in use, the five commonest being diuron, aminotriazole, chlortiamidine, glyphosate and sulfosate. Average applications in the most intensive uses were 0.9kg per ha on roads and streets, 4.0kg per ha in cemeteries and 0.5-0.8kg per ha in parks and sports yards. Variation was very high, however. Total herbicide inputs were estimated at 8 tonnes per year in all six subcatchment areas, 50% of which was due to non-agricultural use. Householders accounted for 30% of all uses. Weekly sampling showed significant contamination of both river waters, with diuron detected in all agricultural and urban sample points. The highest concentration measured was 8.7 microgram per litre of diuron, due to its use on impervious surfaces, leading to high levels of run-off after rain. The EU drinking water standard is 0.1 microgram per litre maximum contamination for any single pesticide. The study recommends reducing the use of suburban herbicides in order to protect water quality, as their use may severely endanger drinking water provision from river sources. Householders should be targeted to reduce their consumption.
First evidence of endocrine disruption in Ebro river carp, Spain
Research in 2001 from five sites along the lower course of the Ebro river in north-eastern Spain has revealed depressed levels of testosterone and alterations in reproductive tissues in male carp fish downstream of the sewage treatment plant in Zaragoza. Important aberrations such as delayed maturation of female carp and poor sperm development in males was observed in fish from the heavily industrialised area of Flix. The effects suggest the presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the sewage discharges and industrial contaminants. The observations are unlikely to be caused solely by the presence of alkylphenol waste from Flix – mercury, chlorine, PCB and DDT breakdown products often reported in the areas could also contribute. In vitro studies indicate the ability of certain pesticides, including fenarimol, to interfere with enzymes regulating sex hormone production but more research is needed to link the observed effects in carp to the use of pesticides in the Ebro catchment.
Parents working in agriculture run increased risk of foetal death in Spain
Analysis of live and stillbirth data of children of manual, non-manual and agricultural workers between 1995-99 was conducted to compare workers from provinces in the south and east, which account for two thirds of all pesticide use in Spain, with those in the rest of the country. Offspring of agricultural workers from the intensive, irrigated agriculture in these regions had the highest risk of foetal death from congenital abnormalities. Relative risk of foetal death from congenital abnormality increased for foetuses conceived during the period of maximum pesticide use April-September. This is also the period when 70% of acute poisonings was recorded by official agencies. The findings support the existence of an association between pesticide exposure in fathers who work in agriculture during the first trimester of pregnancy and the risk of foetal deaths from congenital abnormality. The offspring of agricultural workers also had an excess risk of foetal death from other causes, but not necessarily related to pesticide exposure at conception. The authors recommend that pregnant women living with men involved in agricultural work should be protected from indirect exposure to pesticides during early pregnancy.
Exposure to genotoxic pesticides in Italian greenhouse floriculture
Flower production in greenhouses with heavy use of pesticides is characteristic of parts of Liguria, in north-west Italy. Previous investigations of farmers in flower production by the authors had shown a significant increase in chromosomal damage. 25 different pesticides were used by 51 floriculturalists surveyed, mainly organophosphates and carbamates. Monocrotophos, methamidophos, zineb, methidathion, methyl parathion were used most frequently, as well as the herbicide glyphosate. Most of the pesticides used by the exposed group have mutagenic properties and induce different genetic endpoints: gene mutations, chromosomal alterations or damage to DNA. The formation of micronuclei in peripheral blood lymphocytes was used as a cytogenetic biomarker to compare exposed and control subjects. Results showed a higher frequency of micronuclei in floriculturalist subjects as pesticide use, number of genotoxic compounds handled, and duration of exposure increased, although the difference compared with controls was not significant due to the small sample size. The findings suggest potential human hazard also associated with benomyl and carbendazim fungicides, widely used on fruit and vegetables, since exposure to these compounds is associated with deviations from the normal number of chromosomes.
3. News from PAN Europe partners
Belgian fruitgrowers highlight pesticide problems
Belgian farmer partners GAWI (Association of IPM Fruitgrowers of Wallonia) organised a policy conference in June on Pesticides Impact on Man & the Environment, attended by the federal government Minister for Agriculture and the Walloon Minister of the Environment. PAN Europe Board member Catherine Wattiez made a presentation on The Need for Legislation to Prevent Health & Environmental Impacts of Pesticides, and French Board member Francois Veillerette on Good Practice for Pesticide Use Reduction. Electronic versions of this and other recent presentations by PAN-E Board and Working Group members can be obtained by PAN-E network member organisations only by contacting the PAN-E Coordinator.
WWF-UK argue human rights case for a clean environment for our children
WWF-UK's work on the child's right to a clean environment, hazardous chemicals and REACH continues with a briefing note written for MEPs, full legal advice and an article published in The Times by one of the legal advisers. In summary, the documentation confirms that at the international level there is a strong legal basis on which to argue that a child has the right to a clean environment. Many countries have already recognised this responsibility. Over 50 countries, including Spain and Portugal, have a constitutional right to a clean environment. Recent amendments to Finnish legislation have also introduced important changes for the right of a child to a clean environment, now leaving other EU Member States lagging behind. There are many ways in which such a right could be realised, one of which is a precautionary approach to hazardous chemicals.
New coalition in UK for access to environmental justice
A new Coalition for Access to Justice for the Environment (CAJE) was launched in July, comprised of Environmental Law Foundation, FoE, Greenpeace, RSPB (Royal Society for protection of Birds) and WWF-UK. The coalition aims to tackle the British judicial rules of “loser pays opponents costs” which has made it so difficult for environmental groups and individual citizens to take legal action against private companies or public agencies, and to lobby for a positive interpretation of the Aarhus Convention (on public access to environmental information justice and decision-making ) by the UK government.
German beekeepers and environmental NGOs demand ban on imidacloprid
An interim prohibition on Gaucho, the insecticide imidacloprid linked with high mortality of bees in France, was urged by environmental groups, including PURE signatory Coalition Against BAYER-Dangers, and the beekeeping sector in Germany in July. They demanded Food & Consumer Safety Minister Renate Kuenast to withdraw approval for this pesticide until better knowledge of its impacts is available. This demand follows the recent decision by the French government to prohibit Gaucho seed treatment on maize and sunflower. High bee mortality has also been reported in Germany. Gaucho is produced by German corporation Bayer, netting the company over half a billion euros annual turnover. Gaucho is used in Germany on maize, sugarbeet and oilseed rape. Beekeepers and environmental groups demand prohibition of pesticide ‘Gaucho’, Joint press release by the German Naturschutzbund NABU, the Coalition Against BAYER-Dangers and the Association of German Professional Apiarists. Coalition Against BAYER-Dangers www.CBGnetwork.de
Fact Sheets on Pesticide Use in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)
PAN Germany, in cooperation with the NGOs in CEE countries, recently published a series of fact sheets. The 4-page fact sheets summarize information on agriculture, pesticide uses and pesticide issues in a specific country, provide suggestions for possible NGO action and a list of addresses and links to important governmental authorities, NGOs and laws. Fact sheets on Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic are available in English, as well as in their own national language. Fact Sheets can be downloaded from PAN Germany´s Homepage, www.pan-germany.org or from the partner websites.
Proceedings of the Organic Cotton Conference 04Cotton
International representatives of the organic cotton sector met from 10–13th February 2004 in Hamburg, as part of the joint PAN Germany and PAN UK project ‘’Fair dialogue- mutual benefit: responsible cotton stewardship’’. This European conference on Developing the Organic Cotton Market attracted cotton industry, politicians and NGO participants from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and UK and Africa (Benin, Mali, Senegal). The conference was the starting point for a new European working group, committed to encourage production and consumption of organic cotton. Conference proceedings can be ordered at PAN Germany www.pan-germany.org/shop.htm.
African Workshop on Organic Cotton with European partners
PAN Germany, PAN UK and Beninoise NGO partner OBEPAB are organising a multi-stakeholder workshop “Back to the roots: the farmers’ perspective on Organic Cotton Production and Marketing” in Benin, 26-30 October 2004. The aim is to increase understanding of the farmers’ perspective and intensify exchange and cooperation between European stakeholders and consumers and African farmers and their organisations. It also explores opportunities and risks of sourcing organic cotton from Africa. The workshop will enable European participants to visit organic cotton projects, talk to farmers directly and follow up recommendations from the Hamburg conference.
Transparency on Pesticide Exports Data
Very little information on pesticide trade is available publically. PAN Germany aims for international co-operation among NGOs to demand information from our respective governments and put pressure on them to create the legal basis for more transparency on pesticide exports, especially to developing countries. In 2003, PAN Germany and German NGO Bread for the World launched a joint campaign “For Transparent Pesticide Exports”, focussing on German law and policy making, in order to influence the ongoing amendment of the German Plant Protection Act.
The PAN Europe Newsletter is compiled by Stephanie Williamson, PAN-E Coordinator, Contributions are welcome from PAN Europe network members and individuals.