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Article

9 Jan 2020

Author:
Public Eye

Toxic exports: a Syngenta pesticide banned in Switzerland pollutes drinking water in Brazil

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Switzerland exported 37 tonnes of profenofos to Brazil in 2018, according to official data from the Federal Office for the Environment (OFEV). Profenofos is an organophosphate insecticide which features on the list of substances banned in Switzerland due to their effects on health or the environment. It is extremely toxic to aquatic organisms, birds and bees. Profenofos can also affect brain development in humans and in particular in children...

Although the name of the exporter has been redacted, it is indeed Syngenta... It is the only company authorised to sell profenofos-based formulations in Brazil... Our analysis of the Brazilian government’s water monitoring programme data for 2018 – 2019 showed that residues of profenofos are found in the water drunk by millions of people. In one out of every ten samples, the levels of profenofos detected are such that the water would be considered unfit for consumption in Switzerland...

To date, the Swiss Federal Council refuses to prohibit the export of pesticides banned in Switzerland... In November, UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights Baskut Tuncak, called on the Swiss government to impose a ban on exports. He noted that states have a duty to prevent workers from being exposed to toxic substances, including pesticides, and that this duty extends ‘beyond borders’. The new parliament must act to put an end to these toxic exports.