What can you do?
Paraquat is included in PAN International's list of highly hazardous pesticides developed in support of FAO's call for a progressive ban on highly hazardous pesticides. It has been on the original list of the Dirty Dozen launched in 1985. In order to accelerate the phase-out of paraquat, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Asia (including PAN AP), America and Europe launched the "Stop paraquat" campaign in 2002.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
For a background on PAN AP's position on RSPO, http://www.panap.net/rspo.
Since 2006, RSPO made a commitment to initiate a study towards the identification of safe and cost effective alternatives to chemicals but has failed in this effort. Recently, due to heavy public and media campaign efforts, Sime Darby and United Plantations phased out paraquat after heavy public and media pressure.
This 8 March 2012, the International Women's Day, RSPO will hold its annual General Assembly meeting. PAN AP is introducing a resolution to eliminate paraquat. Though the resolution risks not being deliberated on the floor due to some technicalities, this should serve as a demand from the consuming public for RSPO to take up the elimination of paraquat from palm oil production.
The listing of paraquat in the Rotterdam Convention will be discussed by the Conference of Parties on 2013. Syngenta, with its financial clout, will lobby governments and industry to oppose the listing.
But, we, the people, can equally take on the giant Syngenta. Let us make our voice known. Encourage your government to support the listing of paraquat. Write letters or send your stories to them. For a list of the government's designated national authorities to the Rotterdam Convention, see http://www.pic.int/Countries/DesignatedNationalAuthorities/
This campaign has already achieved some remarkable results: Chiquita decided to ban paraquat from all its banana plantations while Malaysia banned paraquat in August 2002. The ban was temporarily lifted in 2006 in part due to the palm oil lobby. The Malaysian government has deferred its decision pending results of a commissioned study on paraquat and its alternatives.
According to the National Poison Centre of Malaysia, the number of cases due to the herbicide paraquat has been rising. The paraquat poisoning cases, showing an overall increase in the number of cases reported between 2002 and 2008. A ban was placed on the herbicide in 2002, and paraquat poisoning cases have more than doubled since then. In 2011, the Perak state reported a spate of paraquat poisonings.