Daily News Archive
From January 2, 2002

U.N. Investigator Condemns U.S. Pesticide Exports

At a meeting with environmental and human rights groups this past December, a U.N. investigator voiced severe criticisms against United States' regulations concerning pesticide exports, according to Ascribe. Investigating for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Fatma Zora Ouchachi-Vesely studied U.S. practices of trafficking pesticides and other toxins. Ms. Vesely deemed the U.S. practice of exporting harmful pesticides to other countries that have been banned within the United States as immoral.

She met with government officials and non-governmental organizations to gather the data she needed. Government officials informed her that international free-trade agreements allow for pesticides be exported without regulation to countries that demand them, whether or not they are banned within the United States. However, non-governmental organizations say this demand is a result of promotional campaigns funded by companies that profit from pesticide sales. These countries should also have resources explaining the dangers that pesticides pose. Furthermore, "developing countries do not have the medical or regulatory capacity to address the negative effects of these chemicals on their population. That is what makes this is an immoral practice," Ms. Vesely explained.

Vesely concluded that the export of dangerous pesticides greatly affects human rights. "Even if something is marked 'poison' it tends to be shipped in large amounts, then transferred to smaller containers without proper labeling for local sale and use. And the people actually using the products often cannot read anyway," said Vesely. The International Labor organization reported that 65 to 90 percent of children working in Africa, Asia and Latin America work in the agriculture sector. They are exposed to pesticides as they work, as well as through their water and at home. Americans are also affected by the pesticides banned within their own country through food imports.