Call on Syngenta to Stop Production of Paraquat

P A N U P S Pesticide Action Network Updates Service ===========================================

Action Alert: Call on Syngenta to Stop Production of Paraquat

October 14, 2002

A new campaign is underway to pressure Syngenta to stop production of paraquat, one of the world's most deadly pesticides. Syngenta markets this broad-spectrum herbicide in more than 100 countries under the brand name Gramoxone. Paraquat is applied to bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, pineapple, rubber, and sugar cane on large plantations as well as small farms. The herbicide is highly toxic, with no known antidote. Less than one teaspoon, if ingested, is fatal. Skin contact alone can cause systemic damage. Even at very low levels of exposure, paraquat can cause, among other symptoms, severe dermatitis, second degree burns, a rash all over the body, and discolored or itching hands.

Paraquat's extreme toxicity makes protective clothing such as rubber aprons, rubber gloves, full face shields and rubber boot coverings essential for mixers and applicators. But in reality the herbicide is extensively used in warm and humid climates where such clothing is intolerable or unavailable. In these conditions paraquat poses an unacceptable threat to worker health and safety. Interviews in March 2002 with women on Indonesian palm oil estates describe routine exposure through leaking knapsack sprayers, spray drift, and walking through sprayed vegetation.

They link the spraying of paraquat every second day to their symptoms of blurred vision, breathing difficulties, skin damage and diarrhea. Several substitutes for paraquat exist. Chiquita and the Fair Trade Organizations have already banned paraquat from their production. A new report published by several members of the campaign against paraquat includes case studies in developing countries in which crop rotation, mulching, intercropping (planting cover crops) are effectively employed for sustainable non-chemical weed control.

Eleven countries have banned or severely restricted paraquat. Syngenta has recently established a new paraquat factory in China, indicating an intention to continue production of this dangerous pesticide. An international coalition of organizations has launched an effort to increase pressure on Syngenta to take this product off the market. Action: Support the international campaign by sending a letter or email to the chairman of the board of directors of Syngenta, asking him to stop production of paraquat.

To send a letter and stay in touch with the campaign, visit the Berne Declaration Web site (a Swiss-based organization for sustainable development) (Note: to use the automatic email form, you will need to register at the Web site.)

Sources: PAN Pesticide Database; Paraquat: Syngenta's controversial herbicide, Berne Declaration (Switzerland), Foro Emaus (Costa Rica), Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia Pacific (Malaysia), PAN UK (UK) and Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Sweden), April 2002,; Poisoned and Silenced: A study of pesticide poisoning in the plantations, Tenaganita and PAN Asia and the Pacific, Malaysia, March 2002; Paraquat in developing countries, Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica, International Journal of Occupational Health, 24 July 2001.

Contact: PANNA PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide. You can join our efforts! We gladly accept donations for our work and all contributions are tax deductible in the United States. Visit =========================================== Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) 49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA Phone: (415) 981-1771 Fax: (415) 981-1991 Email: Web: ===========================================

Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Donate | About Us | Contact Us

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.