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UK Condemned over 'Shocking' Export of Deadly Weedkiller to Poorer Countries

05:46 EDT 22 Aug 2017 | Meridian Institute

Paraquat is a highly toxic weedkiller that is so lethal, a single sip can be fatal. It can also be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to Parkinson’s disease. Paraquat has been outlawed in the European Union since 2007. But, this article says, the Switzerland-based company Syngenta has been exporting thousands of tons of the substance, sold under the name Gramoxone, and manufactured in the United Kingdom, to other parts of the world. “The fact that the EU has decided to ban the pesticide for health and environmental reasons, but they still export it to countries with far weaker regulation and far weaker controls, is shocking to me,” said Baskut Tuncak, the United Nations special rapporteur on toxic wastes. Syngenta is responsible for 95 percent of the EU’s exports of paraquat, with almost two-thirds going to poor countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Guatemala, Venezuela and India. The rest goes to the United States, where only licensed users can apply the chemical. A spokesperson for Syngenta said, “Paraquat has for half a century been among the world’s most effective and environmentally beneficial herbicides. It has helped millions of farmers stay productive and competitive.” But Nick Mole, of the Pesticide Action Network, said the practice of exporting chemicals that have been banned in the EU to other countries is an “astonishing double standard.” He added: “There’s no reason for it to carry on whatsoever. It’s a massive failing in the regulatory system: if a pesticide is banned, it shouldn’t be exported for use in other countries. There are plenty of real alternatives – otherwise we wouldn’t have phased it out in the EU. People can do without it, but it might dent the profits of Syngenta, and they will fight tooth and nail for those profits.”

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