Pesticide Control: Responsibilities Must Be Faced

Published in Poisons Beware

Chemical poison use is out of control in much of the modern world. Safeguards exist in theory, in practice they are inadequate. At each level of responsibility, practices need to be improved. These are our suggestions for achieving vital improvements.

Pesticides, approvals, scandals

In the autumn of 2023 the banned insecticide chlorpyrifos was found in Croatian mandarins produced for home markets and for export. Shock horror. But the real horror is that this perniciously dangerous pesticide was authorized by the European Union way back on July1st 2006. It was used extensively across the region before being formally banned on 16th February 2020, with a final use-deadline of 16th April 2020. Yet here it is still in use three years later. Why was chlorpyrifos ever approved before the due testing was done which showed up the extent of the damage it causes? At the very least, why was it not withdrawn as soon as its risks began to be apparent? Why is there no control over end-users? Why aren't consumers better protected?   

The chlorpyrifos scandal was not an isolated incident. This is not surprising, as chemical pesticides are granted authorizations on the basis of largely unpublished industry studies; independent research into adverse effects takes time, so it follows much later.  It's high time for decision-makers to improve the safeguards and to ensure that they are put into practice. The European Union and European Commission are responsible for the major laws concerning chemical substances. EU Member States are responsible for the pesticides used on their own territories. In Croatia the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for regulating the so-called 'plant protection products' used in farming. The Ministry of Health governs biocides, the chemicals whose use is supposed to protect human health. Biocides are used for the annual pest suppression programme, responsibility for which is delegated by the Health Ministry to the National Health Institute, which in turn delegates the implementation of the programme to the Regional Health Institutes.

EU failure

In November 2023, the European authorities abandoned the pretence that they were safeguarding European citizens against the harmful effects of chemical pesticides. The European Parliament failed to vote for a ban on the herbicide glyphosate and the European Commission then proposed extending its authorization for a further ten years. The European Parliament also failed to support fully the 'Green Deal' proposal to reduce pesticide use over the next few years. Why? Because they chose to ignore published independent scientific research and the will of thousands of EU citizens, relying instead on mostly unpublished industry-funded 'studies'.

What now?

This means responsibility for protecting human health and essential environmental biodiversity falls squarely on all of us. National, regional and local authorities have to implement the necessary policies, particularly regarding public spaces, parks, woodlands, water sources and the marine environment. Above all, individuals must understand the dangers of using any type of chemical pesticides whether in homes, gardens or fields.

Examples of bad practices in Jelsa on Hvar Island

For many years using non-ecological substances, i.e. chemical pesticides to destroy weeds or pests in spaces used by the public has been forbidden by Council Directive (Službeni glasnik Općine Jelsa, 07.09.2010., III. Čl.32 / 9). Yet over many years in the Jelsa Park chemical pesticides have been used, including Ouragan System 4 (active substance glyphosate), Pyrinex 48EC (active substance chlorpyrifos) and Revive II (active substance emamectin benzoate); in April 2022, Hvar's roadsides were sprayed with herbicide from a van marked 'Hrvatske Ceste'; individuals have used herbicides on public paths and even on old waterways; and every year all the roads are sprayed with pyrethroid insecticides three times during the summer - pesticides which are banned in the EU for outdoor use because they are so dangerous for the environment and bees.

Illnesses linked to lack of awareness

Clearly, people are not aware of how much damage is being done by this agglomeration of dangerous poisons in the environment, and are ignoring the Council Directive. The results are all too visible on the island. Each year, there are less birds, bats, insects, wildlife, plus depleted soils in the fields. As for human health, how many islanders suffer from cancer? There is a relatively high incidence, including prostate and breast cancers, leukaemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as thyroid problems. Also neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Chemical pesticides can be a factor in all of these and many more health problems.

Tourism compromised

Hvar's tourism is marketed on the basis of 'untouched nature'. Widespread pesticide use is undermining the island's most precious assets and amenities.

Action needed!

Each and every individual who cares about the future health of people and the environment should act immediately. If you have been using chemical pesticides of any kind, find ecological alternatives. Teach those around you, especially children, how harmful pesticides are and how to avoid using them. Campaign against the use of pesticides by local, regional or national authorities.

Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon), November 2023.

Related articles: Pesticides, Why Not; Testing for Pesticides; Pesticide Testing in the Home.

For more details about chemical pesticides, their possible adverse effects and the regulations governing them, please see our articles: 'Pesticides and their adverse effects', 'Pesticides, Laws and Permits', 'Pesticide Products in Croatia' 'Glyphosate herbicides, scientific evidence', among many others in the category 'Poisons Beware'.

You are here: Home poisons be aware Pesticide Control: Responsibilities Must Be Faced

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Climate activists likely to be concerned by another fossil fuel-reliant country taking over summit presidency

    Azerbaijan has been announced as the host of next year’s climate summit after fraught negotiations.

    Under UN rules it was eastern Europe’s turn to take over the rotating presidency but the groups need to unanimously decide on the host. Russia had blocked EU countries and Azerbaijan and Armenia were blocking each other’s bids.

    Continue reading...

  • Exclusive: freedom of information request reveals ministers rejected plan to make pledge legally binding

    The UK government has no plans to meet its target for everyone to live within a 15-minute walk of a green space, the Guardian can reveal.

    Ministers have also scrapped an idea to make the target for access to nature legally binding, a freedom of information request submitted by the Right to Roam campaign shows.

    Continue reading...

  • Blast in Sidcup not being treated as terrorism but counter-terror officers are leading investigation

    The London mayor’s office has condemned a “grotesquely irresponsible” attack in which a camera enforcing the city’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) was damaged with what appeared to be a homemade bomb, saying lives were put at risk.

    There was no immediate reaction on the incident from Downing Street or the Home Office, with No 10 saying it could not comment amid a police inquiry, but that it condemned “criminality more generally”.

    Continue reading...

  • Exclusive: Figures reveal growing push by fossil fuel sector for technologies that scientists say will not stop global heating

    Cop28 organisers granted attendance to at least 475 lobbyists working on carbon capture and storage (CCS), unproven technologies that climate scientists say will not curtail global heating, the Guardian can reveal.

    The figure was calculated by the Centre for Environmental Law (Ciel) and shared exclusively with the Guardian, and is the first attempt to monitor the growing influence of the CCS subset of the fossil fuel industry within the UN climate talks.

    Continue reading...

  • The Guardian asks five climate experts to explain the key differences between 1.5C and 2C

    The world’s most ambitious climate target is under threat, both from physics and politics. But what would it mean for the planet and its inhabitants if humanity were to abandon the goal to limit global heating to 1.5C above preindustrial levels?

    The inclusion of 1.5C (2.7F) was hailed as one of the great triumphs of the Paris climate agreement of 2015. Until then, international ambition had been limited to 2C (3.6F), much to the frustration of small island states and others on the frontline of climate disruption.

    Continue reading...

  • Oil cartel warns ‘pressure may reach a tipping point’ and that ‘politically motivated campaigns put our prosperity’ at risk

    The Opec oil cartel has warned its member countries with “utmost urgency” that “pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences” at Cop28, in leaked letters seen by the Guardian.

    The letters noted that a “fossil fuels phase out” remains on the negotiating table at the UN climate summit and urges the oil states to “proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy, ie fossil fuels, rather than emissions”.

    Continue reading...

  • ‘Peace parks’ that establish protected areas across borders are one idea from those working to protect marine ecosystems in a region rife with geopolitical sensitivities

    ‘In Sweden they train crows to pick those up,” shouts a passerby, unhelpfully, as my colleague and I fill our jam jars with hundreds of cigarette butts. Half an hour later, it’s plastic bottles, tin cans and a pair of boxer shorts.

    Our team of a dozen volunteers are snorkelling and scuba-diving their way around the Dubai coastline of the Gulf – specifically a stretch of La Mer Bay that has been adopted by Chloe Griffin, a diving instructor who organises these “debris dives” for students.

    Continue reading...

  • New buildings must be zero-emission and have solar panels by 2030, and fossil fuel boilers to be banned by 2040

    New buildings in the EU must have no emissions from fossil fuels by 2030, and boilers that use those sources will be banned by 2040 under a new deal on energy and homes.

    The rules, agreed between MEPs and member states but not yet formally adopted, set targets to make buildings waste less energy. Subsidies for standalone oil and gas boilers will stop by 2025.

    Continue reading...

  • Exclusive: plant from South America, also known as Gunnera, found to spread rapidly and choke native flora

    With its dramatic leaves and sprawling structure, the giant rhubarb has long been a popular garden plant, gracing the grounds of stately homes and multiple National Trust properties.

    But the UK government is now to enact a ban – similar to that on Japanese knotweed – on the plant, also known as Gunnera, meaning it cannot be sold or cultivated, and those who have it in their gardens must ensure it does not spread.

    Continue reading...

  • 2023 is first year of potential pair of El Niño years and since 1997, every instance of these pairs has led to mass coral mortality

    Record-breaking land and sea temperatures, driven by climate breakdown, will probably cause “unprecedented mass coral bleaching and mortality” throughout 2024, according to a pioneering coral scientist.

    The impact of climate change on coral reefs has reached “uncharted territory”, said Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, from the University of Queensland, Australia, leading to concerns that we could be at a “tipping point”.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds