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Pesticide Industry Ranked on Its Damage to Health and Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2008) Pesticides manufactured by Bayer (Germany), Syngenta (Switzerland), Monsanto (USA), BASF (Germany) and Dow Chemical (USA) pose the biggest threat to human health and the environment, according to a new Greenpeace Germany report, “The Dirty Portfolios of the Pesticides Industry.” The report provides the first-ever ranking of the world’s leading agrochemical companies based on the hazards and risks of their pesticides on human health and the environment. These five companies together account for 75 percent of the world market and 46 percent of the pesticides they sell worldwide are particularly hazardous substances.

Monsanto has the portfolio with the highest proportion, 60 percent, of pesticides that are particularly toxic to humans and the environment. However, Monsanto only ends up in the middle of the overall ranking due to its small share of the market. The overall ranking not only takes into account the hazardous properties of the various pesticides, but also the quantities that are sold worldwide. Pesticides manufactured by Bayer pose the biggest threat to human health and the environment, according to the report.

“Our ranking shows how toxic the business of the leading agrochemical companies still is,” said Greenpeace chemicals expert Manfred Krautter. “Politicians must now tighten up pesticide laws to protect our health and to preserve biodiversity. Pesticides that can cause cancer, alter genes, and damage the reproductive, endocrine or nervous system must no longer be authorized. Pesticides that harm bees or life in aquatic environments must be banned from the market. The chemical industry is now using its significant lobbying power to try to secure authorization even for toxins like these.”

Last fall, the European Parliament voted in favor of tighter legislation to be enacted by 2013. However, member states would be given the discretion as to how the plan would be implemented in their countries. In May, the European Union Health Commissioner called on European governments to adopt tougher guidelines on pesticides and to ban the use of all potentially dangerous pesticides that can cause cancer, reproductive effects and hormone disruption. The chemical industry has also been lobbying governments and law makers. EU agriculture ministers are due to meet on today to attempt to reach a common position on the proposal.

The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area (Greensboro, North Carolina) reported that regulatory filings show that Syngenta spent $1.2 million on lobbying the U.S. federal government in 2007, while Monsanto spent $4.5 million. This is small change considering Monsanto posted record profits in 2007 of nearly $1 billion, up from just over $700 million the year before. Syngenta also posted record profits in 2007 of $1.1 billion, up over 60% from 2006.

TAKE ACTION: Don’t let corporations continue to gain control over agriculture, spreading the use of toxic chemicals and genetically engineered seeds. Vote with your dollars and buy organic, fair trade items that support better farming practices and sustainable livelihoods.


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