The Multinational Monitor


T O X I C   E X P O R T S

New Coalition Forms to Combat Pesticide Use

by Matthew Rothschild

The campaign against trade in hazardous substances moved forward recently with the creation of a new organization: the Pesticide Action Network (PAN).

Founded on May 28 at the culmination of a four-day conference held in Penang, Malaysia on the dangers of pesticides, PAN called "for a halt to the indiscriminate sale and misuse of hazardous chemical pesticides throughout the world."

About 20 people - representing consumer, environmental and development action groups in 16 countries - attended the conference, which the International Organization of Consumers Unions and the Friends of the Earth, Malaysia, hosted.

Speakers at the conference discussed the "terrible toll chemical pesticides are inflicting around the world," a PAN press statement said. "Conference speakers estimated that a minimum of 375,000 people are poisoned yearly in the Third World, 10,000 fatally."

This "needless suffering and death," Anwar Fazal, president of the International Organization of Consumers Unions, told the conference, is "occurring every day due to the irresponsible and abusive marketing practices of multinational agrochemical corporations in the Third World."

Conference speakers also criticized international lending institutions - such as "the World Bank, the Regional Development Banks, and the FAO [Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations]" - for being "involved in funding agricultural projects which involve the overuse and abuse of hazardous pesticides."

To put an end to pesticide abuse, PAN recommended:

  • "The imposition of export and import controls on the movement of hazardous chemical pesticides from industrialized to Third World countries, and among Third World countries themselves.
  • "Immediate notification by any government whenever it bans or restricts a chemical pesticide."
  • "Public release of information by all governments on the export and import of chemical pesticides, including the names of companies involved, amounts and values and known health effects of the products sold."
  • "The withdrawal of financial support by all international funding and development agencies of any Third World project utilising pesticides which cannot be safely used under Third World conditions."
  • "The expansion of traditional, biological and integrated pest management."

In the months ahead, PAN intends to put out a newsletter, issue pesticide alerts, lobby government officials, and campaign against specific products and companies.

"We are very action-oriented," says Gretta Goldenman, who attended the conference for the San Francisco-based Institute for Food and Development Policy. Goldenman thinks the issue of pesticide abuse may become highly visible in the near future. It "unites not only environmentalists and development activists," she says, "it affects every consumer in the world. It is very important for our health and well-being. "

For more information about the Action Network, write:

Friends of the Earth
1045 Sansome St.
San Francisco, CA 94111

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