PAN EuropeNews


Press Release

9th October 2012

Brain-damaging pesticide Chlorpyrifos will be reviewed

EU Health Commissioner Dalli finally responds to calls of PAN-Europe

EU Health Commissioner John Dalli decided to start a review of the approval of pesticide Chlorpyrifos after years of accumulated evidence of harm.  This was announced yesterday in a letter to PAN Europe by head-of-cabinet, Mrs. Darmanin.  It is one of the first-ever cases of approved pesticides being reviewed. Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide used on grapes and potatoes and was approved provisionally in 2006. However, the conditions for approval -show in 2-years time that high risks for birds and mammals are acceptable- even are not fulfilled today. On top of that independent scientists kept on presenting strong evidence of harm for humans. New evidence from the USA  [1], [2]) shows brain damage in children exposed to Chlorpyrifos at every-day exposure levels, the effects being more irreversible for young girls than boys. This new evidence only strengthens the available evidence of harm and shows the present EU standards are irresponsibly high. Additionally to that, Chlorpyrifos is a persistent and bioaccumulative chemical, it is travelling long-range and is shown to be present almost everywhere in the environment, in food and air, even in the  Arctic [3], in ice, snow, fog, air, seawater, lake sediment, fish and vegetation. PAN Europe has send letters to Mr. Dalli presenting the scientific evidence on 07-06-2011 and 13-09-2012 and now Dalli has taken responsibility to protect citizens and the environment and starts the review. PAN Europe urges Mr. Dalli to choose for a full ban since it is the only way to prevent further damage done.

Chlorpyrifos was conditionally approved in 2006 with a questionable construction called "confirmatory data" allowing market access while high risks were shown for birds and mammals. The Health DG of Mr. Dalli thereby infringed its own laws and valued commercial interests over protection of the environment. Industry was given the opportunity the present further data but even after Food Authority EFSA in 2011 concluded that the additional "data" presented by industrial company DOW also did not show that the use of Chlorpyrifos is safe, nothing happened. EU Rapporteur Spain kept on defending the use of Chlorpyrifos and Dalli’s Health DG was slow to act. Chlorpyrifos is a very dangerous chemical for human and especially the unborn; apart from being a neurotoxin capable of causing developmental effects in later life such as on the brain, it is a reprotoxin capable of causing birth defects and an endocrine disrupting chemical linked to cancer.

— ENDS —

Further information

For further information please contact:

Hans Muilerman, Tel: +316 55807255 Info,


1. Virginia A. Rauh, Frederica P. Perera, Megan K. Horton, Robin M. Whyatt, Ravi Bansal, Xuejun Hao, Jun Liu, Dana Boyd Barr, Theodore A. Slotkin, and Bradley S. Peterson, Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide, PNAS | May 15, 2012 | vol. 109 | no. 20 | 7871–7876

2. Megan K. Horton, Linda G. Kahn, Frederica Perera, Dana Boyd Barr, Virginia Rauh, Does the home environment and the sex of the child modify the adverse effects of 2 prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos on child working memory?, Neurotoxicology and Teratology xxx (2012) xxx–xxx

3. Chlorpyrifos as a possible global POP, Meriel Watts, PhD, For Pesticide Action Network North America, August 2012

Letter Commissioner Dalli to PAN Europe

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