Published: 06/02/2009

New study shows crop production not affected

A new report by the IUF and a Swiss-based NGO, Berne Declaration, shows that production without paraquat is entirely feasible and is already happening in important crops.

“Goodbye Paraquat” is based on responses to a questionnaire by more then 40 major food producers in bananas, tea and palm oil, crops which traditionally have been big users of paraquat.

The report shows that producers of bananas and tea have moved away from reliance on Paraquat. On palm oil it found that producers were equally divided into Paraquat users and non-users but that there was also a clear preference amongst palm oil buyers for palm oil produced without Paraquat.

“Paraquat is a major health hazard for our members in agriculture. We welcome the news that some leading food producers are opting out of using toxic pesticides like Paraquat. This attitude should become the norm in agricultural production and governments must recognize and support this by banning paraquat”, commented IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald.

However he added that while IUF recognized some progress on Paraquat, similar progress from some of these companies, like Unilever, was not being seen on labour and trade union rights issues.

“They can’t hide behind talk about environmental sustainability, we need progress in workplaces too, ” he concluded.

Importantly, the results of the survey show that in the palm oil, banana, and tea sectors Paraquat-free production is not only desirable but also economically viable and thus possible. Statements by Syngenta, the leading producer of Paraquat, to the effect that the highly-toxic herbicide is indispensable are clearly untenable.

“With its irresponsible and unreasonable support for the product and its aggressive marketing Syngenta is complicit in tens of thousands of Paraquat poisonings every year”, said François Meienberg of the Berne Declaration (BD).

IUF and BD are urging governments to come forward now and ban Paraquat use across the board. In Switzerland, Paraquat has been banned for twenty years and in Europe it lost approval in 2007. In many developing countries the product is still sold in great quantities despite the lack of sufficient protection for users.

You can read the report by clicking here