PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) welcomes the ban of two Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) recently announced by the governments of Vietnam and Malaysia: the immediate ban on new imports of glyphosate in Vietnam, and the total ban of paraquat in Malaysia starting 2020.
The director of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam was quoted in a national newspaper saying that new imports of glyphosate-based herbicides would be banned immediately, and that the total ban of glyphosate “will be done in the near future.” The Vietnamese government said that the ban was based on a California federal jury decision this March that found evidence linking glyphosate to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma—it the second such verdict in the U.S., where Monsanto is facing over 9,000 trials related to its product RoundUp (glyphosate).
“The immediate ban on glyphosate imports in Vietnam shows that decisive actions can be taken by the government to protect its people from Highly Hazardous Pesticides. We hope that a total ban on glyphosate will soon follow, as Vietnamese people who are every day exposed to glyphosate in their farms and homes have suffered enough, and actually deserve accountability from Monsanto as much as the complainants in the U.S. RoundUp trials,” said Sarojeni Rengam, PANAP Executive Director.
In PANAP’s 2018 report Of Rights and Poisons: Accountability of the Agrochemical Industry, mapping the use of HHPs in seven countries in Asia and the Pacific, glyphosate was among the pesticides used in survey sites in Vietnam. Around 84% of respondents, mostly women, exhibited symptoms of pesticide poisoning, such as headaches, dizziness, excessive sweating, vomiting and blurred vision.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian government recently announced the total ban on paraquat starting January 1, 2020. The total ban on paraquat was announced as early as 2004, but was lifted in 2006 after intense lobbying the agrochemical and plantation industries. “The total ban of paraquat in Malaysia is way overdue. While we welcome finally the announcement of the ban, the human and environmental cost of such a delay must be scrutinised. The damaging effects of paraquat have long been known, and yet the government chose to put the interests of business first,” Rengam said.
Penang-based PANAP and its partners in Malaysia have been documenting the ill effects of paraquat on oil palm plantation workers and campaigning for the ban for over two decades. In Switzerland, home to paraquat’s main producer Syngenta, the pesticide has been banned since 1989 but is still allowed to be exported. PANAP’s latest report Of Rights and Poisons, women oil palm sprayers in Malaysia who are exposed to paraquat reported burning sensations in many parts of their bodies, including the genital area.
Glyphosate and paraquat, two of the most widely used herbicides in the world today, are included in PAN International’s list of HHPs because of their acute toxicity, long-term toxic effects, high environmental concern, and other irreversible adverse effects on human health and the environment.
PANAP stressed the need for a legally-binding global treaty to eliminate HHPs. “The effects of HHPs such as glyphosate and paraquat are global, so the efforts to decisively eliminate them must be global as well. Unfortunately, existing international instruments governing pesticides are voluntary and non-binding. That is why it can take decades for a pesticide to finally be banned in one country, and yet still be used in another, despite incontrovertible proof of their hazards to human health and the environment. A legally-binding global treaty is needed to end this injustice,” Rengam said.
Ahead of the 3rd Open Ended Working Group of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) to be held in Uruguay, Pesticide Action Network International has renewed its call for a global legally binding mechanism for the lifecycle management of pesticides, either as a new standalone treaty or as a legally binding protocol within a new overarching chemicals framework to phase out HHPs.
Reference: Deeppa Ravindran, PANAP’s Pesticide Programme Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org