A third of pesticide sales by 5 largest companies allegedly contain 'highly hazardous' chemicals, analysis finds; includes company comments

According to new research by Public Eye and Unearthed, over a third of the pesticide sales made by the world's five largest pesticide companies - Bayer, BASF, Syngenta, FMC and Corteva - contain chemicals that are highly toxic to human health or the environment. The organisations also found a higher proportion of these highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) are sold to developing and emerging countries, where regulations are weaker and risks often higher. Public Eye is also urging governments in Switzerland and the other countries that host these firms to enact measures to ensure that companies respect human rights and the environment in all the countries where they operate.

The media article linked below contains comments from the companies, some of whom dispute the list of HHPs used, established by Pesticide Action Network (PAN). A spokesperson for Croplife International, the pesticide industry’s lobby group, said their "members support the [voluntary] FAO International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management" and that they "support countries to identify, and if necessary, remove HHPs from their markets". More information is available below.

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Autor/in: Damian Carrington, The Guardian (UK)

The world’s biggest pesticide companies make billions of dollars a year from chemicals found by independent authorities to pose high hazards to human health or the environment, according to an analysis by campaigners.

The research also found a higher proportion of these highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) in the companies’ sales in poorer nations than in rich ones... 

Unearthed used a list of 330 HHPs compiled by Pesticide Action Network International (PAN)...

The FAO and WHO classify some but not all of these pesticides as HHPs on their list...

“Our members support the [voluntary] FAO International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management,” said a CropLife International [the pesticide industry’s lobby group] spokeswoman. “We support countries to identify, and if necessary, remove HHPs from their markets.” ...

“Pesticides identified on the PAN list are often classified based on the acute toxicity of the active ingredient rather than the formulated product, which is not consistent with practical use” ...

A spokesman for Bayer said the differing sales from nation to nation reflected the different needs of farmers...

A spokeswoman for BASF said: “BASF is convinced of the safety of its products when they are used correctly following the label instructions and stewardship guidelines. All products are extensively tested, evaluated and approved by public authorities in the respective countries. Additionally, all active ingredients in these products are approved in at least one OECD country.” ...

FMC referred the Guardian to the response from CropLife International and Syngenta and Corteva did not respond to requests for comment.

[Note: Syngenta referred Nau.ch to the statement by CropLife International.]

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Autor/in: Public Eye & Unearthed

Public Eye and Unearthed obtained data from the market analysis company Phillips McDougall, which detail 23.3 billion dollars of agricultural pesticide sales in 2018, or approximately 40% of the world market. We analysed the data using the list of highly hazardous pesticides established by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN). The results show that the German companies Bayer and BASF, the American Corteva and FMC and the Swiss Syngenta together made 35% of their sales income from pesticides that pose the highest levels of risk to health or the environment...

Our analysis also shows that developing and emerging countries are the privileged playing fields of these multinationals, who make nearly 60% of their sales of highly hazardous pesticides in such countries. The firms take advantage of the weakness of regulations in countries like Brazil and India to continue selling substances that are banned in the European Union and in Switzerland. Whereas such chemicals cannot be used safely, especially in such contexts...

Switzerland and the other countries that host these firms should enact strict measures to guarantee that the companies respect human rights and the environment in all the countries where they operate.

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