(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2010)The Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, based in Germany, is urging the multinational company Bayer to withdraw its most dangerous pesticides from the world market. The network specially is calling on Bayer to end sales of all products that contain active ingredients in the highest acute toxicity Class 1 of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of pesticides.
Bayer is the world market leader in sales of pesticides, many of which account for pollution and poisonings all over the world. The company acknowledges that “crop protection products may not always be used correctly under certain circumstances in some Third World countries.” Already in its 1995 Annual Report Bayer promised to “replace products with the Classification 1 of the World Health Organization with products of lower toxicity.”
Public health advocates say that safe use of Class 1 (highest acute toxicity) pesticides is not possible, especially in countries where, because of poverty, illiteracy and other social conditions, as well as tropical climatic conditions, do not permit the wearing of protective gear. WHO estimates the number of people poisoned annually at three to 25 million. At least 40,000 people are killed accidentally by pesticides every year. The estimated number of unreported cases is much higher. Bayer pesticides contribute enormously to the thousands of deaths and millions of pesticide poisonings each year.
Nevertheless the company failed to keep its promise. Bayer still sells products that contain active ingredients in WHO Class 1a (extremely hazardous) and Class 1b (highly hazardous), including Thiodicarb, Disulfoton, Triazophos, Fenamiphos and Methamidophos. In September 2009, EPA cancelled the last remaining uses of disulfoton and methamidophos in the U.S. but thiodicarb, disulfoton and fenamiphos are still registered for use.
Under strong public pressure Bayer pulled several Class 1 products from the market. These included methyl and ethyl parathion, monocrothophos, oxydemeton-methyl, azinphos-methyl, amitraz and trichlorphon. Only six months ago Bayer committed to end the distribution of the pesticide endosulfan by the end of 2010. The decision came after years of global campaigning against this persistent pesticide, which is linked to autism, birth defects and male reproductive harm, as well as deaths and acute injuries to farmers through direct contact. Advocates point out that fatalities could be reduced significantly by the cessation of the sale of all class I substances.
The Coalition Against Bayer Dangers also demands an immediate ban on the herbicide glufosinate- a broad spectrum herbicide also used in the U.S.- and a suspension of all approvals of glufosinate-resistant crops. A European Food Safety Authority evaluation states that glufosinate poses a high risk to mammals. The substance is classified as a reproductive toxicant, with laboratory experiments causing premature birth, intra-uterine death and abortions in rats. The European Parliament voted last year to ban pesticides classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction. EU permits for 22 substances, among them glufosinate, will not be renewed.
Source: Coalition against Bayer Dangers