IUF affiliates in 7 African countries – Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia – have lent their support to the campaign to halt glyphosate reauthorization in the European Union. In communications to EU heads of states and the relevant EU authorities, the unions have pointed to the risks from agrochemicals their members confront on a daily basis, often in situations where there is no protective clothing, no proper chemical labeling, no training and no labour inspection.
For years, the unions have struggled with employers and governments to improve the situation and to encourage moves towards reduced pesticide applications through integrated pest management and the encouragement of agro-ecological farming techniques. The results have been meager; workers continue to suffer the effects of indiscriminate pesticide application, a situation rendered even more acute by the fact that many agricultural workers live where they work, surrounded by general pesticide contamination and an absence of potable water.
Sugar workers are exposed to particularly heavy, indiscriminate glyphosate application since the herbicide is used to accelerate ripening of the cane.
The unions believe that re-authorization would set back their own longstanding efforts to ban or restrict the application of glyphosate and other pesticides, and have urged the Commission to implement a ban on glyphosate use or, failing that, to respect at a minimum the April 13 resolution of the European Parliament, which called for limited reauthorization for 7 years, with important restrictions.