Of the 12 pesticide risk assessment methods studied in this new Pesticide Action Network report, published in collaboration with Générations Futures, 11 have been developed or promoted by industry.
Harmful effects seen in animal tests can be ignored by these methods.
Therefore, tumors demonstrated in animals can be classified as “irrelevant to humans”, hazardous pesticide residues in water can be classified as acceptable, death of 50% of insect and bee populations not target after fumigation it was also considered acceptable and the requirements for the protection of aquatic life were weakened.
These methods are designed to avoid the prohibition of dangerous pesticides and have the effect of weakening the protection of the public and the environment.
Industry, including the International Life Sciences Institutes (ILSI), an industry lobby group, has not only engineered these methods but also managed to infiltrate, in 75% of the cases studied in this report, experts such as the European Health Safety Agency (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to adopt their methods. The WHO and EFSA have not stopped this infiltration of the industry and have maintained this situation of conflict of interest.
Regulators have not put enough distance between themselves and the industry. In 50% of the cases studied, regulators and EFSA held individual meetings with industry on assessment methods, in the absence of any other stakeholder.
The industry was mainly inspired by the United States to develop these methods (67% of the cases studied), a country whose rules are favorable to the industry, which does not apply the precautionary principle and which puts the health of the public in danger.
Pesticides Action Network Europe and Generations Futures ask the WHO, the European Commission and the EFSA to evaluate all current evaluation methods with recognized independent scientists specialized in this field. The establishment of a strengthened conflict of interest policy in expert panels is also urgent.
Our report shows that the public and the environment are not protected, as they should be protected. The science used by these methods is biased and manipulated, and the decisions made about pesticides are largely unscientific. EFSA and WHO are still cultivating these close relationships with industry, preventing them from being objective and truly independent.
The fact that chronic diseases continue to grow, such as hormone-dependent prostate and breast cancers, and that the collapse of ecosystems (bees, birds, insects ...) in agricultural areas is almost total, is a clear sign of the failure of the pesticide risk assessment system, according to the Pesticide Action Network Europe and Generations Futures.
By Graciela Vizcay Gómez