Spain and other citrus-producing countries in EU seems to vote against a ban of chlorpyrifos-methyl on the meeting this week. Oranges from Spain is some of the fruits in EU, where there is a really high risk they are contaminated with chlorpyrifos. These oranges are harvested in the Spanish province, Valencia. EFE/Rubén Francés
The death warrant of a pesticide rarely takes the form of a European regulation. However, later this week the European Commission will ask the Member States to ban chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl, two insecticides causing damages to the brains of foetuses and young children.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has decided to take a closer look at Sweden’s compliance with UN-rules on information in environmental matters. The decision follows rejection on requested access to document by the Swedish Chemicals Agency and two Swedish courts. Access could
harm Sweden’s participation in international cooperation, the argument went. But
this might run counter to the UN Aarhus Convention, signed by Sweden, 44 other
countries and the EU. In the case of emissions to the environment release of
information should be the default option, the convention states.
Time is running up for chlorpyrifos – the pesticide designed to kill insects, and a cause of brain damage to human fetuses and newly born children. The EU-commission and the food safety Authority (EFSA) have both publicly stated the present approval should not be renewed. Yet a final decision scheduled for December cannot be taken for granted. In 2 August EFSA-experts declared that no detectable residues of chlorpyrifos in food can be accepted. Sometime in September the Commission informed EU-member states it will propose a total ban on chlorpyrifos and related substance chlorpyrifos-methyl at the end of the year.
Danish minister for food Mogens Jensen (Social democrat) has instructed the national food administration to prepare a total Danish ban on food treated with the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Peter Pagh, professor in environmental law at Copenhagen University calls it a blow in the air, as EU-countries cannot ban imports in their own. Henrik
Dammand Nielsen, head of section for chemistry and food quality at Danish
Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) says Denmark has asked
the Commissions for its plans to ban an EU-wide use of chlorpyrifos, and
expects a reply from Brussels within 5-6 weeks. ”If we
haven’t received a reaction we will go forward with preparing a national import
ban,” he explains. These
preparations come parallel to the ongoing process of whether to prolong a
present EU-approval of the pesticide or not.
There are no safe levels for exposure to the pesticides chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl, EU-experts have found. An EU-ban of the criticised pesticides comes closer. Experts
from EU-member states and staff members at EFSA (European Food Safety Agency)
have published an unusual statement on two controversial pesticides, believed
to cause brain damage on children whose mothers have been exposed during
pregnancy. The pesticides
do not meet the criteria for a renewed approval, EFSA announced
2 August in a statement. The present approvals expire in January 2020.
“This is a clear example of how States around the world aren’t considering the rights of the child when they make decisions on chemicals,” says UN Rapporteur. A pesticide known to cause brain damages in children and fetus is up for re-approval in the EU. If EU-states allow this to continue, it is a breach of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on toxic waste says. “When you look at chlorpyrifos as a case study, it becomes crystal clear that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is being ignored by numerous EU member states when it comes to toxic pollution and contamination”, says Mr. Baskut Tuncak, UN Special Rapporteur on Toxic Waste. The Special Rapporteur refers to recent revelations by Danwatch and Investigative Reporting Denmark along with 7 other media showing how fruits and vegetables sold all over Europe are filled with a pesticide called, chlorpyrifos.
In Poland increased chlorpyriphos was detected for quite a long time due to a mistake made by the Ministry of Agricultare. In 2016, a regulation that amended the standards for the pesticide, wasn’t introduced until June, when all the farmers had already sprayed fruits and vegetables. The Ministry started to inform about the changing standards too late. According to the story in Newsweek, farmers do not follow legal acts on an ongoing basis. They are guided by common sense: the protection program and the content written on the labels of pesticides.
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.
Harvest of melons in the province of Murcia in Spain. Photo Marcos García Rey
Scientists say there is no acceptable dose to avoid brain damage. Its use is banned in several European countries. Yet its residues are found in fruit baskets, on dinner plates, and in human urine samples from all over Europe. Now producers are pushing for a renewed EU-approval – perhaps in vain.
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.