May - June 2004
1. PAN Europe activities
Advance notice of Network conference 2004
In collaboration with Friends of the Earth Barcelona and the Catalan coalition pesticide campaign (see PAN Europe partners' news), we will be holding our annual network conference for members and other supporters Friday 12 - Saturday 13 November 2004 in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain. This provides a welcome and long-awaited opportunity to raise the profile of PAN Europe and pesticide issues in Spain and the wider Mediterranean region. We are very pleased that the Catalan Regional Government's Department of Environment and other local government agencies are generously supporting much of the logistics of organising the conference, a public meeting on chemical hazards and a seminar for public sector officers on implementation of EU best practice in relation to pesticides and other chemicals. More details in the next newsletter.
Pesticide Use Reduction in Europe (PURE) Campaign: Proceedings of policy conference
The proceedings from our November 2003 policy conference entitled Reducing pesticide dependency in Europe to protect health, environment and biodiversity are now available on our web site. The proceedings highlight:
- new evidence on pesticide problems for health, the environment and biodiversity
- the rationale for pesticide use reduction at European Union and national levels, under the precautionary principle
- ways for measuring pesticide use reduction, data requirements and availability
- integrated crop management (ICM), integrated farming systems (IF) and achievements in pesticide use reduction as well as environmental and economic impact of those systems
- practical steps towards pesticide use reduction at national levels as well as at retailers' and farmers' initiative
We will be disseminating the proceedings and our recent PURE is Working report to EU and national government decision makers, Ministers of Environment, Agriculture and Health, MEPs and key collaborators in order to persuade them of the practical arguments for PURE, in preparation for debate over the Commission's proposed Thematic Strategy for a sustainable use of pesticides in the coming months.
We now have 91 organisational signatories to the PURE campaign, welcoming two further organisations from Spain.
Aerial spraying consultation -position paper
Following our participation in the DG Environment stakeholder meeting in March to address the original Commission proposals for a possible ban on aerial spraying, under its proposed Thematic Strategy for a sustainable use of pesticides, we have now updated our position. We continue to argue for a total ban, but within a period of 5 years. If the Commission rejects the possibility of a total ban, or decides on a general ban but with member States able to authorize certain derogations, we will demand a detailed assessment of the health and environmental effects of aerial spraying versus other control methods, for each specific case as we are extremely concerned about the impact of exposure to drift. Our position in detail can be read on our website http://www.pan-europe.info under Policy Papers.
Stop Paraquat campaign
The European Commission has made its first formal response to the lawsuit by the coalition of environmental NGOs, including PAN-E, and trade unions, against its approval of paraquat last year, arguing that the case is not admissible, i.e that the Court should not accept our application. The Commission gave two reasons: (i) the paraquat Directive is too general a decision to enable any sort of appeal against it; and (ii) the applicants (i.e the coalition) lack legal standing in the European Courts. The coalition's lawyers will be arguing against these responses in the coming weeks. The latter point refers to the view that as a group of NGOs what the court would see as our legitimate interest is low, compared, for example, with an individual personally affected by paraquat spraying. This has been a major problem for public interest groups attempting court action but should change at some time in the next 2 years when the Aarhus convention comes into force. This convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters guarantees citizens the right to access to the courts through procedures that are 'fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive' where they are alleging that environmental laws have been broken. Environmental NGOs in the UK have come together to form the Coalition for Access to Justice for the Environment, campaigning to change the system so that access is affordable, fair and effective.
2. Published news and information
EU-wide authorisation: go-ahead for several problematic pesticides
Since the start of the EU-wide process in the early 1990s, 105 new active ingredients have been submitted for approval, of which 51 have been included on Annex I, the approvals list, 7 have not and 47 remain pending decisions. Of the more than 900 existing, older actives, 90 were prioritised in the first round for review. Of these, 40 have been given approval, 27 excluded or not supported by the companies, and decisions on the remaining 23 will be made during 2005-06. None of the existing actives in the other three rounds for review have received approval yet and hundreds have already been withdrawn. Decisions on 52 actives from the second round will also be made in the next 12-18 months.
Agrow 449 June 4th 2004, p7.
Six more existing actives were granted EU-wide approval from March 2005: herbicides ioxynil, bromoxynil, desmedipham and phenmedipham, the insecticide alpha-cypermethrin and the fungicide benalaxyl. Bromoxynil is classed as a possible human carcinogen by US EPA and along with ioxynil is flagged as of potential reproductive or endocrine-disruption concern by the EU. All six pesticides require risk mitigation measures for protecting aquatic organisms, benalaxyl to prevent groundwater contamination and use of the herbicides must avoid harm to terrestrial wildlife.
The Commission also confirmed its approval of the fungicide quinoxyfen from September 2004, subject to aquatic life protection measures. Sweden did not support its inclusion, highlighting its concern that this pesticide is persistent, has a high potential for bioaccumulation and is toxic. Sweden also noted remaining uncertainty with regard to the atmospheric transport of the substance, potentially making quinoxyfen a POP candidate that needs to be prohibited according to the Stockholm Convention.
The new fungicide mepanipyrim will be included on Annex I in October 2004, also with risk mitigation measures for aquatic organisms. Another biopesticide Pseudomonas chloroaphis for seed treatment against cereal diseases, was approved. The plant growth regulator mefluidide was excluded from the Annex and its authorisation must be withdrawn by national governments within 6 months.
No more Gaucho insecticide on French maize
In May the French Agriculture Minister announced a ban on the use of Gaucho (imidacloprid) as seed treatment for maize, until it is reviewed by the European Commission in 2006 under the pesticides authorisation process. This follows a similar French ban on fipronil in February, both in response to concerns over links with high mortality of bees. French beekeepers recently estimated that 90 billion bees have been killed over the last 10 years by these pesticides, and honey production in south-west France has fallen by 60%. Beekeepers applauded the Gaucho ban decision, while its manufacturer, Bayer, reacted strongly and pointed to reports concluding that Gaucho was safe for bees, including one from the French food protection agency. The French government has started a 2 year multi-factorial study to compare bee populations in areas where imidacloprid and fipronil-based products are used and areas where they are not.
Belgians restrict herbicide use to safeguard honey
In June 2004 Belgium's Public Health, Food Safety & Environment department decided to ban farmers from treating meadows with herbicides while dandelions and clover are in flower. Instructions for when herbicides may not be applied will be specified on herbicide product labels as they come up for review by the regulators. The aim is to address concerns of beekeepers about pesticide residues in honey.
New member states allowed longer withdrawal periods
The Commission adopted regulations on May 1st with the accession of the 10 new EU member states to allow extended phase-out periods or maintenance of essential uses for 8 actives to be withdrawn from the former EU-15. These are: herbicides atrazine, simazine, butylate, cycloate, EPTC; insecticides beta-cypermethrin, methidathion; and fungicide benomyl. All except beta-cypermethrin are flagged as Bad Actor status in the PANNA database, and benomyl was found responsible for birth defects in the recent US damages court case. The new EU-10 may also register 71 actives from 91/414 review round 4 until 2007 which are not currently used in the EU-15, unless Annex I exclusion decisions are made on any of these during this period.
Restrictions on chlorpyrifos in UK?
The UK's Advisory Committee on Pesticides has proposed new restrictions on the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, due for EU authorisation review decisions in 2005-06 and also under assessment as to whether it should be classified as a priority substance under the EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60. Approvals for carrots and for certain pests on cereals are likely to stop and the ACP recommends reducing or restricting applications on a range of fruit and vegetables, ornamentals and grassland. One of the main concerns is risks to aquatic organisms. Chlorpyrifos was linked to the death of hundreds of fish in a spillage incident in one river in Southern England in 2001. Chlorpyrifos is a PANNA Bad Actor neurotoxin and linked to birth defects.
The Biocidal Products Directive 98/8 regulates registration and marketing of pesticide products which are not used for crop protection. These include a wide range of compounds including rodenticides, wood treatment and anti-fouling agents, weed control in non-agricultural sectors, insecticides for urban use, slug and snailkillers, plant oils, as well as antibacterial agents contained in many household products. Like the agricultural pesticides directive 91/414, the biocides directive is reviewing safety data of existing products and company data submissions for the first round of products, rodenticides and wood preservatives, closed in March 2004. The second round covers insecticides, molluscicides, repellents and attractants and antifouling agents. 104 insecticidal compounds have been notified for review by the manufacturers, some of which also have agricultural uses. Some have been excluded from agricultural use, such as the pyrethroid permethrin, supported by 11 biocide companies. Permethrin is a PANNA Bad Actor, classified as a possible human carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor.
Unlike crop protection pesticides, biocides are often manufactured by numerous, smaller companies and it is likely that a large proportion of existing active ingredients will drop off the market as companies cannot afford to defend them. The first phase of the review programme requires companies to identify or notify regulators of the active ingredients and product types in which they are used. After the deadline for specific groups, any non-identified substances may no longer be sold. The UK's Health & Safety Executive, responsible for regulating biocides, notes that the directive obliges member states to report any human or animal poisonings involving biocides. Its compliance monitoring project will also be checking that no non-identified active ingredients are being supplied after the relevant deadlines. 2,700 products were identified in the EU, covering 759 substances, of which only 372 active substances have been notified for the review process.
Who's who in the European pest control business
The Confederation of European Pest Control Associations released a first survey of this non-agricultural sector based on data from 2001, with a total turnover of 1,584 million Euros. The main part of the sector was insect and rodent control, worth 32% and 30% respectively, then wood protection at 23% and disinfection, stored product protection and other applications make up the remainder. Over 6,000 companies were estimated to operate pest control services, employing around 42,000 people, averaging less than 10 people working for each enterprise. The largest national share was the UK, with 9,000 workers, followed by Germany and Italy with 8,500 and then Spain with 4,500. Hungary, Bulgaria and Czech Republic all had over 1,500 employees as did France and the Netherlands. Germany was the market leader in terms of value, with 41% of the market share.
POPs Convention comes into force and new EU legislation
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) came into force on 17 May 2004, following ratification by the fiftieth country, France, in February. Only 19 countries in the European region had ratified by the end of May: the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Slovakia, Czech republic, Austria, Finland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Armenia, Denmark, Belarus, France, Moldova, Slovenia, Macedonia and Spain.
International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) http://ipen.ecn.cz/
PAN International considers that as a persistent organochlorine endosulfan should be included in the POPs Convention and regional groups, including PAN Europe, identified it as a priority pesticide for elimination campaigning earlier this year. In the European region, it is banned in Germany, UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and severely restricted in Lithuania, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Russia.
The EU has now updated its legislation on production, management and disposal of POPs, in order to comply with the Convention. Sale and use of most of the 11 POPs pesticides is already prohibited. DDT and lindane are restricted rather than banned under the Convention and may be used as intermediates in production processes, while lindane continues some limited uses for industrial, public health and veterinary purposes. An immediate ban on lindane is not therefore possible, according to the Commission, but production and use will be kept to a minimum and phased out by the end of 2007 (agricultural and garden uses were withdrawn in the EU in 2002). The new EU Regulation 850/2004 sets out instructions for holders of POPs stockpiles, procedures for notifying production and use of banned or restricted POPs and reporting on control measures. If new pesticides are added to the POPs list, stocks must be destroyed immediately. The new Regulation reflects the urgent need to implement POPs control measures but in the future these could come under the proposed REACH regulation.
The Paris Appeal
The International Declaration on Diseases due to Chemical Pollution, known as the Paris Appeal, was launched at the Paris conference on Cancer, Environment & Society on 7 May 2004 (see Partners' News) and has already been signed by over 3,000 people, including hundreds of scientists. It calls for political action under the precautionary principle and PAN Europe Board members were involved in drafting the text, particularly in relation to pesticides. It contains four important demands related to pesticides which back up PAN Europe positions: (i) cut-off criteria based on intrinsic properties (hazards); (ii) application of the substitution, precautionary and polluter-pays principles; (iii) adoption of toxicological norms based on risks for the most vulnerable groups; (iv) use reduction plans with targets and timetables.The text is now open to co-signature from NGOs and from individual citizens, with a target of 1 million signatures within a year. To sign as an organisation or individual, go to the Appeal website http://appel.artac.info/
New book on cancer and environment links
This book examines the debate between those who maintain that cancer is largely a degenerative phenomenon and others who support the hypothesis that environmental factors predominate. It addresses the issue of the rising incidence of cancer in society (including among children) in the context of environmental changes over recent decades. The first part discusses currently available evidence supporting the environmental cancer aetiology hypothesis, while the second part examines policy implications of accepting that the cancer epidemic may essentially be preventable. The authors declare that not only does the precautionary principle have to be implemented through reinforcement of the legal framework including the chemicals (and pesticides) authorisation policy, exposure reduction (chemical hygiene concept) but also education of decision makers and the public must all be involved. It was written in the context of the ASPIS project (Awareness Strategies for Pollution from Industries) www.ifmsa.net/public/project.php?id=14 )
Cancer as an environmental disease, eds Nicolopoulou-Stamati et al., Kluwer Academic Publishers, Environmental Science and Technology Library, vol 20, 2004. Email: orderdept [at] wkap.nl, web site: http://www.wkap.nl The 29 pp conclusions of this book can be obtained from PAN Europe Coordinator or catherine.wattiez [at] skynet.be
PAN Europe liaises regularly on pesticide health issues with 3 of the editors, Polyxeni Nicolopoulou-Stamati at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Vyvyan Howard at University of Liverpool, UK and Nick van Larebeke at Gent University Hospital, Belgium. Prof. Howard's presentation on Inadequacies of the current licensing system for pesticides from our policy conference in November 2003 can be read under the conference proceedings on our website.
Commission publishes action plan for organics
The European Commission published its European Action Plan for Organic Food & Farming in June, highlighting how organic farming not only meets the needs of certain consumers but also delivers important societal benefits for the environment, rural development and animal welfare and therefore justifies increased public funding. The plan includes 21 action points to promote marketing of organic food, improve greater and more effective use of public funds under CAP rural development measures, and strengthen and harmonise EU organic standards, inspection and import of organic produce.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and European Parliament COM(2004)415 final, 10/06/04
PAN Europe has been calling for a target of 30% of European agricultural land under organic farming within a ten year period, as one of the demands of our PURE Campaign.
2003 pesticide sales and volumes in Spain, Italy, Germany and UK
Sales in Spain totalled 649 million Euros, an increase of 2.1% on the previous year, with fungicide sales increasing by over 7%, mainly in vegetable and fruit tree sectors. Almost 70% of total sales were in the Mediterranean region, with the state of Andalucia taking 34% of national share.
Italian sales amounted to ?681 million, an increase of 0.9% but down 3% in terms of volume. Drought last year meant a considerable drop in fungicide use, while boosting insecticide sales for aphids and mites. Both herbicides and insecticide sale value increased but volume decreased, with a shift to lower dose, high value products. Total volume of active ingredients sold in Italy was 36, 551tons, compared with 37,838 in 2002.
Germany reported a 5.5% drop in pesticide sales of members of the agrochemical industry association IVA, down to ?1,071 million, mainly due to dry weather reducing fungicide sales by 13%, as well as molluscicides and growth regulators, although herbicide and insecticide sales both rose. However, German total pesticide volume sold rose by 7.4%, to 28,601t active ingredient, due to more use of cheaper herbicides and sulphur-based fungicides.
Latest statistics from the UK Crop Protection Association reveal a 2% increase in sales value in 2003 compared with 2002, up to £427 million, but a 3% decrease in active ingredient tonnage down to 28,409t. CPA member companies now account for over 95% of market share of pesticides sold in the UK. The number of CPA employees was 2,437, a decrease of 12%.
Ukrainian Minister calls for more pesticide use
Ukraine's Agricultural Policy Minister urged farmers to apply pesticides to untreated crops to reduce incidence of pests, weeds and diseases following recent very wet weather. The Ministry anticipates usage of over 11.5 million tonnes of pesticides this year and the government is setting up an emergency reserve of pesticides for use against major infestations, even though the Ukrainian market is well-supplied.
3. News from PAN Europe partners
Conference on Cancer, Environment & Society
French oncologist Prof. Dominique Belpomme, with whom we collaborate, organised this high-profile conference with his anti-cancer therapy NGO ARTAC on 7 May in Paris, attended by over 400 people. PAN Europe was represented in the plenary presentations by Alison Craig of PAN UK, Catherine Wattiez, our PURE campaign coordinator, and Francois Veillerette of MDRGF, who spoke about different aspects of pesticide hazards and need for reduction. The conference proceedings will be featured in a forthcoming issue of The Ecologist magazine. PAN Europe succeeded in gaining coverage of the pesticide issues at the conference in French national newspaper Le Monde.
New synopsis of active ingredient hazards in the EU
In conjunction with the Paris conference, MDRGF and Belgian partners Inter-Environnement Wallonie published an update report (in French) on hazards of pesticides in the EU. The withdrawal of 320 active ingredients from the EU market by end of 2003 certainly removed a good number of hazardous substances: 67 neurotoxins, 48 suspected carcinogens, 36 suspected endocrine disruptors, 9 suspected reproductive toxins, 8 skin sensitisers and 5 suspected mutagens, all classified as such by official sources. However, we shouldn't forget that a large number of hazardous pesticides remain in use: 92 suspected carcinogens; 48 suspected endocrine disruptors, 47 neurotoxins; 25 skin sensitisers; 20 suspected reproductive toxins; and 2 suspected mutagens.
Catalan pesticide campaign launched
In May, the Pesticides out of our Lives! campaign for reduction of pesticide use in agriculture and urban environments was launched by a coalition of Comisiones Obreras (one of two largest trade unions in Spain), Amics de La Terra (Friends of the Earth Barcelona), Vida Sana (organic food association) and health professionals network Centre for Analysis of Health Projects (CAPS). The Catalan Association of Small & Medium Farmers has also joined. The campaign aims to work on public and professional awareness-raising on: pesticide and chemical legislation and its correct implementation; pesticide and chemical hazards to human health and environment; and how to avoid their use at home and work. Spain has a reputation for very weak implementation of EU law and the campaign will drive institutional lobbying by the public and NGOs for proper implementation of EU directives and national legislation, with full stakeholder participation. In agriculture, the campaign aims to agree action plans for implementation of IPM and promotion of organic farming, protection of conservation areas and full respect for the Water Framework Directive.
Urban exposure is a major concern with the constant fumigation of interior spaces against insects. There have been dozens of cases of severe poisonings in Barcelona during urban occupational exposure to organochlorines and organophosphates over the last decade, notably among cleaning women, many of whom are now permanently disabled. Their symptoms include loss of concentration and memory, respiratory and hormone disruption, heavy menstruation and anaemia, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Several are struggling to receive compensation through the courts. The Barcelona City Council has responded positively by insisting that only IPM approaches can be used in its 800 public buildings and published a guidance manual of techniques. However, there has been little change in the private sector and the Hilton Hotel, where several cleaning employees were affected, has been extremely unsupportive of their disability claims. The campaign is demanding action plans for pesticide reduction in parks, open spaces, interiors, along with better exposure assessment and biomonitoring and incorporation of intrinsic hazard assessment into decision-making.
PAN Europe's coordinator visited Barcelona to help launch the campaign and to publicise the need for PURE at EU and national levels. Excellent media coverage included articles in two Catalan daily newspapers, the Spanish version of The Ecologist, local radio and a national TV documentary is in preparation on chemical exposure, including pesticides, and the experiences of three affected women from Barcelona.
Russian civil society plans for getting rid of obsolete pesticides
Eco-Accord, in collaboration with the Women's Network for the Urals and the International POPs Elimination Network, ran a seminar on Public Participation in Primary Obsolete Pesticides Inventories on 24-25 January 2004 in Chelyabinsk. They developed recommendations for public involvement in identifying illegal storage and for pilot inventory sites in Chelyabinsk region. The workshop report and decision paper in English can be downloaded from the IPEN website http://ipen.ecn.cz under news for those dates.
Talking about toxic chemicals and WHO Ministerial conference
PAN Europe Board member Catherine Wattiez participated in events under the Healthy Planet Forum umbrella for NGOs in parallel to the WHO regional Ministerial conference on Environment & Health 'The Future for our Children' 26-28 June in Budapest, Hungary. She made a presentation on Toxics in water and food: Precaution and Prevention Actions at a workshop organised by partners Women in Europe for a Common Future, on toxic chemicals and health, mainly for Hungarian women. At the Forum and Ministerial Conference, civil society continued to criticise the weakness of the Commission's Children's Environment & Health Action Plan (CEHAPE), particularly the lack of any legally binding actions. Press releases on this subject can be found on the websites of EEB, FoE Europe and Greenpeace
Belgian NGOs raise profile of PURE and pesticide hazards
Inter-Environnement Wallonie and its Flemish counterpart, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, along with PAN Europe's PURE coordinator, held a full day consultation with the cabinet of the Federal Environment Minister in May in relation to the forthcoming Belgian pesticide action plan and the demands of civil society. The Environment Ministry has decided in favour of targets and timetables and of the Treatment Frequency Index as an additional indicator. PAN partners have collaborated closely with scientists in academia , signatories to the Paris Appeal, to lobby authorities for a progressive approach to the Belgian Action plan. The NGOs obtained a full page article about the Paris Appeal in Belgium's largest French language newspaper Le Soir and coverage on national TV, with a focus on pesticides.
Bayer drops court case against FoE for telling public how to access safety data
Bayer started legal action when Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland told them it had legally obtained copies of safety data from the Swedish pesticide regulator KEMI and said it was going to tell the public how they could obtain the information in the same way. Bayer then tried to prevent them doing so, including access to safety data on glufosinate ammonium, its herbicide for use on GM herbicide tolerant crops in the UK. Such information is of key interest to people exposed to pesticides through work or living near sprayed fields. Bayer has now signed up to a settlement promising never to sue FoE again for telling members of the public how to access this type of data or for requesting this type of data from regulators. UK regulators, the Pesticides Safety Directorate, have welcomed the decision of Bayer to drop the case as being in the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act and in line with UK government and PSD policy on providing public access to information.
The PAN Europe Newsletter is compiled by Stephanie Williamson.
Contributions are welcome from PAN Europe network members and individuals.