For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

326 NGOs, Trade Unions Demand End to EU’s Export of Banned Pesticides, Hazardous Chemicals

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja.

326 Non-Governmental Organisations and Trade Unions drawn from different countries including Nigeria have called on the European Union, (EU) to end the export of banned pesticides and other hazardous chemicals into Africa.

Some of the organisations include Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria (AAPN), Cal-Maji Foundation, Community Action against Plastic Waste (CAPws), Heinrich Boell Stiftung Nigeria, Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADeV), International Union of Foods and Pan African Vision for the Environment

The Organisations who lamented that hazardous chemicals, banned at a domestic level in order to protect human health and the environment, are currently produced and exported by EU countries to third countries where regulations are generally weaker, decried Europe’s double standard, that is, exporting pesticides and chemicals banned in the EU, saying it must be stopped because what is toxic for people and the environment in Europe, is toxic for people and the environment everywhere (joint statement

In a statement yesterday, the organisations revealed that the EU must lead by example and, while it moves towards more sustainable practices and safer alternatives to harmful pesticides and chemicals, it should support other countries to do the same.

According to them ”about 385 million cases of acute pesticide poisonings occur each year, mainly in low- and middle-income countries, where a large proportion of the population continues to be involved in agriculture or lives in areas where pesticides are used, and where farmers often handle them unprotected.

“The main export destinations for these banned pesticides are countries that are the biggest exporters of agrifood products to the EU. Like a boomerang, banned pesticides find their way back to European consumers via imported food, thus ending up on the dinner plates of EU citizens, they added.

They said in an investigation they conducted, evidence showed that in 2018 alone, European factories exported more than 81,000 tonnes of pesticides containing 41 different hazardous chemicals banned on EU fields, to be used in agriculture in other countries. In 2020, the EU increased its exports to a shocking 667,000 tonnes of hazardous chemicals banned or severely restricted in the EU (European Chemical Agency/ECHA).

The EU’s export of harmful pesticides is a gross violation of human rights. It perpetuates preventable pollution that affects individuals’ and communities’ rights to life, dignity, health, bodily integrity, and, not least, their right to a healthy environment, which all EU member states, as parties to the Aarhus Convention, must uphold, they said

States have an obligation under international human rights law to prevent exposure to pollution, toxic industrial chemicals, pesticides, wastes, and other hazardous substances (UN report).

They further stated that the EU’s delay of the chemicals reform planned for 2023 is a blow to people’s health and the environment in countries that are affected by the use of European toxic pesticides deemed too harmful for Europeans, on their agricultural fields.

“The reforms of the REACH and PIC Regulation (EU Regulation No 649/2012 concerning the export and import of hazardous chemicals) are missing from the European Commission’s 2023 working plan.

The EU’s Chemical Strategy for Sustainability must serve as inspiration to the low- and middle-income countries that are yet to prioritise the well-being of people and the environment in their policies. The EU must support the transition to the use of safe and sustainable alternatives for farmers in low-and-middle-income countries.

The organisations which alleged that the EU also exports cancer-causing car cadmium batteries although they are prohibited in its jurisdiction stated that overall some 667,000 tonnes of hazardous chemicals banned or severely restricted in the EU were exported in 2020, according to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA).

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