Pesticide victims left to fend for themselves

Originally published by Le Monde 16th of February. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease or cancer, European farm workers experience inadequate recognition and failing compensation schemes. Cropper and cattle breeder Luis Grasa, suffering from Parkinson’s disease most likely due to continuous exposure to agrochemicals, observes his cereal fields in Cerésola (Spain). Photo: Marcos Garcia Rey. Science has shown that pesticides exposure is linked to serious and deadly illnesses for farm workers, including Parkinson’s disease and blood cancers.Victims across Europe are struggling for recognition and compensation, as occupational disease remains a blind spot for authorities. As of now, only France and Italy officially recognize Parkinson’s disease to be linked to farm work.

Poisoned farmers: exposing the myth of pesticide protection

Originally published by Le Monde 16th of February. Farm workers are not protected from pesticides.Their exposure has been linked to serious and deadly illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease and blood cancers.Recommended equipment, expensive, untested and rarely worn as it is, does not provide effective protection.Without this presumed protection, dangerous pesticides would be banned.French whistleblowing scientists have raised the alarm for more than a decade. They remain unheard. 

Scientists preparing Jean-Baptiste Lefoulon before measuring his exposure to pesticides in the field. Photo: © Ed Alcock/MYOP for Le Monde. Jean-Baptiste Lefoulon is standing in boxer shorts in the middle of his farmyard.

Billions of euros, millions of faulty masks, and no answers

Romanian firefighters unload a first batch of 30 ventilators from rescEU – the common European reserve of medical equipment set up earlier this year to help countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic, at the Hospital in Bulovka. EC – Audiovisual Service, photographer  Michal Cizek

If truth is the first casualty in war, transparency was lost first in the fight against Covid-19, closely followed by lack of control and oversight. In the very first contract for protection equipment paid for by the EU budget, the Commission in April signed a contract with the German company Asanus Medizintechnic GmbH worth 29 million euros for 10 million masks. When the first batch arrived in May tests in four member states showed the masks did not comply with the contract. They were non-homogenous, only partially passed the filter test, and fell below the norm for a fit-for-purpose test.

Unclear exit from G4S by two Danish business people

In 2004, two Danish businessmen, Lars Nørby Johansen and Jørgen Philip-Sørensen, were the main forces behind the establishment of the world’s largest security company, G4S. Just a year later, both disappeared from the company in a vague way. G4S still praises itself for its Danish roots, but around the world, the giant is nowadays better known for mismanagement – murder, torture, surveillance and other human rights violations, which are traditionally not associated with Denmark, the Danish business community, or the region Scandinavia. G4S’s shabby human rights record recently led to the divestment of crucial Danish and Norwegian G4S shareholders. G4S is still listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, which begs the question: how Danish is G4S really?

Who executed the sick people in a school – and why?

“I observed a group of about 12 soldiers arriving on foot along the road. I could not identify to which party they belonged. They were wearing either camouflage uniforms or one colored khaki uniform. Some wore hats or caps but I can not give more specific description. They took position lying behind the wall along the road and facing the school.

Et skrantende Falck skabte sikrings-giganten G4S – hvorefter danskerne forsvandt og firmaet blev et monster

To danske erhvervsfolk, Lars Nørby Johansen og Jørgen Philip-Sørensen, var hovedkræfterne bag den storstilede oprettelse af verdens største sikringsfirma, G4S, i 2004. Men blot et år efter forsvandt begge fra selskabet på meget uklar vis. G4S roser stadig sig selv for sine danske rødder, men rundt om i verden er giganten i dag anklaget for drab, tortur, overvågning og andre overtrædelse af menneskerettigheder, som man ikke forbinder med Danmark og dansk erhvervsliv, og som har fået danske og norske investorer til at trække sig. Oprettelsen af G4S skete efter et ultra-hæsblæsende forløb med de to meget forskellige mænd i spidsen.

Lars Nørby Johansen opfattes i Danmark som en af bannerførerne for moderne ledelse, corporate governance, og har givet navn til et udvalg om virksomhedsledelse, Nørby-udvalget, der kom med sine anbefalinger i 2001. Han stod i spidsen for Falck i en lang række af opkøb og aktie-udvekslinger frem til etableringen af G4S, og han blev på det tidspunkt vurderet som en af de allermest indflydelsesrige erhvervsfolk i Danmark.

Covering chlorpyrifos

The project on chlorpyrifos was first published 17th of June 2019 in EUObserver covering warnings from scientists because of its effect on humans, spread of the poison in food, the legal battle in EU and the fact that it was becoming banned in more and more countries. At the same time, market analysts predict the market to expand in the next five years. Chlorpyrifos might be banned in the EU from the beginning of next year. On the same day all the material was released on this website with the overview of the team-members. Le Monde, France, uncovered how only one study from Dow looked into the neurotoxicology of chlorpyrifos.

One study only paved way for chlorpyrifos

Chlorpyrifos has been used in EU despite the manufacturer’s study on developmental neurotoxicity is criticized for being invalid. Photo Marcos García Rey. The EU-approval of the pesticide chlorpyrifos was based on one single study concerning possible damages on the developing brain, commissioned by the producer Dow in 1998. Dow has been asked to provide a new study on developmental neurotoxicity, but rejected to comply. A spokesperson for EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) says to Le Monde:

“We can confirm that during the evaluation of chlorpyrifos in 2013 the only one available study on developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) was from 1998 and had several limitations (e.g. lack of findings in the positive control, exposure period from gestational day 6 to lactation day 11 (instead of 21), lower number of individuals for neuropathology (6 instead of 10) and for learning and memory (8 instead of 10), etc.).”

Spain is acting as the Rapporteur Member State for the UE in the renewal procedure which will end in January 2020.

National tests show we eat insect poison

Updated 07.26 on 17/6 2019. European citizens continue to eat and drink the insect poison believed by scientists to cause damage to children’s brains. Data for the year 2016 from all member states sent to the food safety agency EFSA shows that out of 76,200 samples 3,371 contained chlorpyrifos and 839 chlorpyrifos-metyl. In total they accounted for 5,5 percent of all the samples. !function(){“use strict”;window.addEventListener(“message”,function(a){if(void 0![“datawrapper-height”])for(var e in[“datawrapper-height”]){var t=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-“+e)||document.querySelector(“iframe[src*='”+e+”‘]”);t&&([“datawrapper-height”][e]+”px”)}})}();

The NGO Pesticide Action Network Europe has analyzed the same data and narrowed the analysis to only look at randomly sampled unprocessed plant based food products in EU.

Team-members in the environmental investigations

Eva Achinger is a reporter working for the public German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (ARD). In 2016 she joined the investigative unit BR Recherche/BR Data. Her investigations mainly deal with environment, agriculture, animal welfare and human rights. Lorenzo Bagnoli is investigative reporter at IRPI – Investigative reporting project Italy. He is focused on transnational organized crime.