Pesticides Information Database on Health and Environmental Impacts
In 2006, the last edition of this report was published. In these last 5 years a lot has happened. The claim of Sweden that ‘(...) paraquat is the substance most dangerous to health — in terms of acute toxicity — ever included in Annex I to Directive 91/414 (...)’ eventually lead to an EU–wide ban of paraquat including the requirement for an export notification similar to the international PIC procedure.
Paraquat is one of the most widely used highly toxic herbicides in the world despite no known antidote. Its extensive use causes numerous poisoning cases among farmers and agricultural workers.
Paraquat is included in PAN International List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides and is currently deregistered or banned in 32 countries (including 27 countries of the European Union), mainly for health reasons. However, there has benn strong industry resistance to include paraquat in the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Consent (PIC), and hence it remains outside the PIC list.
Why Should I Be Concerned?
Breast cancer is escalating throughout Asia in the wake of rising use of pesticides and other chemicals, as it has done throughout the western world.
Whilst the global increase in incidence in breast cancer is about 0.5 percent annually, in China it is 3 to 4 percent, and not much less elsewhere in eastern Asia.
In Singapore, the increase in incidence of breast cancer was reported to be 5.7 percent per year among premenopausal women and 3.9 percent per year among postmenopausal women by 1992.
This Policy Research and Analysis on “Pesticides: Sowing Poisons, Growing Hunger, Reaping Sorrow” has been produced for information sharing and exchange with our network partners, the media, and the public at large. It addresses the role of pesticides within the industrial complex. This has eroded traditional and organic agricultural systems that provided for people’s food needs, causing a shift from production of food to crops for cash.
Breast cancer is by far the most common cause of cancer in women throughout the world, and incidence is escalating in the Asia Pacific region. It is time for systemic change in our attitudes to pesticides: we need to implement the precautionary principle and substitute safer ecological methods of managing pests, weeds and disease, for those pesticides exposed here as having the potential to cause breast cancer.
The use of paraquat has been a subject of controversy for at least two decades, especially regarding the safety of farmers and agricultural workers in developing countries. Both intentional and unintentional poisonings with paraquat, mainly among agricultural workers, farmers and inhabitants of rural areas, have led to serious concern among national health authorities, workers' unions and non-governmental organisations. A number of factors cause work-related (occupational) fatalities to be underestimated, and suicides over-represented.
This frequently updated list by the Californian Environmental Protection Agency might be a useful reference. The most recent version can be found at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/public_info.html
This fact has been tragically demonstrated repeatedly in the recent past – Love Canal, Chernobyl, Minamata, Bhopal, among others. The earth is a living organism and it has a continuity with the human being through various processes (physical, chemical, biological, social and spiritual) that maintain life. The human being is an integral part of the living earth, our living environment. Nature, the dynamic expression of earth’s life, is not just a passive entity external to humans waiting to be explored and exploited for material benefits.
A catalogue of lists of pesticides identifying those associated with particularly harmful health or environmental impacts