Sep 28, 2020
Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.
Every year, the European Union (E.U.) authorizes European agribusiness corporations to produce and export pesticides that are banned in Europe.
Public Eye and Greenpeace-Great Britain collected thousands of applications that companies must complete to export dangerous chemicals. Trade secrecy is used to camouflage practices like exporting prohibited substances, but these activists were able to document and expose them.
They have the data for 2018. That year the E.U. approved the export of nearly 90,000 tons of pesticides containing banned toxic substances. This is equivalent to the quantity of all pesticides sold in France that year.
Among these pesticides is the infamous Paraquat, sold as Gramoxone, which the E.U. banned in 2007. Syngenta still produces it in Great Britain. It is highly toxic to humans. Paraquat-related suicides have been common for years among farmers in India driven to despair. 1,3-Dichloropropene was also banned in 2007. It is used in Morocco in tomato fields. Atrazine was banned in 2003. Synerga produces it at a plant in Gard, France, and it is widely used in Ukraine in wheat fields.
The U.S.A. is the leading importer of these notoriously dangerous pesticides. But three-quarters of the other importing countries are poor countries. While the E.U. bans more substances in Europe considered hazardous to health or the environment, exports of them are increasing.
France says it plans to make these practices stop in 2022. This leaves two years for agribusiness companies to get busy lobbying French and European leaders to prevent this ban. Environmental problems and the health of farmers do not matter to the vultures of agribusiness.