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Condemnation of MPI’s “no worries” attitude to glyphosate-contaminated honey: Regulatory authorities are totally failing to protect producers and public health

Joint Media Release from the Weed Management Advisory (WMA), Pesticides Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand, (PANANZ) and Buy Pure New Zealand (Buy Pure)
July 29th, 2020

The disturbing news that 20% of New Zealand’s highly valued manuka honey has been contaminated by glyphosate (aka Roundup) was revealed in an exclusive story this week  by One News journalist Thomas Mead.  The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Chief Scientist Dr John Roche downplayed the contamination, saying levels of glyphosate are too low to be harmful even though five of the samples tested were over the NZ regulatory limits.

Dr Meriel Watts of Pesticides Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand, disagrees.  Dr Watts said today that the MPI and the Environmental Protection Authority NZ (EPA) are failing New Zealand’s producers who are suffering from other people’s use of pesticides.

“We should be learning from our history of food contamination with pesticides, not repeating the same mistakes. The banning of endosulfan in NZ in 2008 only came about because of the rejection by South Korea of New Zealand beef contaminated by that insecticide” she said.

“Endosulfan was gone with only a month’s phase-out despite howls of outrage from users. In spite of it having been ‘cleared’ by the then EPA forerunner ERMA, and widely used on council-run sports-grounds, it was swiftly banned by NZ when trade was at risk.”

“How long before glyphosate becomes the same pariah as endosulfan did in 2008 which was banned globally in 2011 following the New Zealand ban?” asked Dr Watts.

“Countrywide bans around the world and regulatory strictures on glyphosate will soon be overwhelming. Germany’s ban is on track for 2023; Italy banned post-harvest use and use in public places in 2016 as did France a year later; and in the EU, UK and USA many local authorities have ceased using it” said Watts.

“We should be taking action now, and the government should be supporting farmers and growers to transition away from pesticides like glyphosate as a matter of urgency.  Alternatives like organic regenerative farming are viable and highly successful round the world but could benefit from government support in New Zealand instead of the “she’ll be right” attitude of MPI to pesticide contamination of highly valued exports.”

Hana Blackmore of the Weed Management Advisory (WMA) said the EPA and MPI are also failing the public because of their approval and tacit support for the use of these agrichemicals in public areas such as roads and parks.

“These are chemicals approved for agriculture – not for spraying the most vulnerable in our society, our babies and children and their pregnant mums,” said Blackmore. “These pesticides pose unacceptable risks to human health because of their effect at even low levels of exposure.  The sort of exposure faced daily on the streets and parks from local authority spraying.”

The WMA also notes that far from reducing the use of glyphosate, as trumpeted by Local Authorities such as Auckland Council, there is evidence that growing plant resistance to glyphosate is actually increasing the use of other pesticides and chemicals.

“The common addition to glyphosate sprays of pesticides and surfactants like metsulfuron and organosilicone produce toxic mixes that have never been assessed by our EPA” says Blackmore.  “Our regulatory authorities are totally failing to protect us, even as this latest debacle shows they have failed to protect our multi-million dollar honey industry.”

Jodie Bruning of the Soil and Health Association agrees.  As she notes in her One News interview the tainting of the honey is not the beekeepers’ fault “it is the fault of a regulatory environment that doesn’t control it enough.   If New Zealand wants to be a cheap commodity producer, producing tainted food, then that’s New Zealand choice, or we can actually have stronger regulation, which protects our free market.”

Brendan Hoare of Buy Pure New Zealand comments that the adage that if you suspect and find it somewhere, that it’s probably everywhere. “This places decades of work by apiarists to create a high value, globally recognised brand in jeopardy. ”

He adds that the MPI chief scientist Dr John Roche, “has not understood the issue, question or impact and exudes an attitude that is risky to New Zealand” he said.

“The conscious consumer – our customer, wants to believe in the NZ promise. A fundamental responsibility we have is to listen with intent and deliver with purpose. Research overwhelming shows a number one demand our target market wants is products free from pesticides. It’s why our clients with certified organic honey are in demand.’”



Active campaigns to get pesticides out of all public places like streets and parks are growing with the WMA launching a Children’s Campaign during the covid-19 lockdown to protect children from toxic pesticides, and the Soil & Health Association initiating a plan to keep NZ families safe by getting glyphosate-based herbicides out of the urban area. A People’s Inquiry into the impacts and effects of toxic chemicals and poisons on people, wildlife and environment is also underway, with public hearings expected in March 2021.


Comprehensive Review of Monsanto’s Glyphosate Underscores Urgent Need for Global Action (2017)

In a “state of the science” review released today, PAN International presents a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides and underscores the need for a global phase-out. Environmental and health advocates say the monograph on the world’s most widely used herbicide, commonly known by its original trade name Roundup, should serve as a wake up call for regulators, governments and users around the world.

Adverse human impacts detailed in the review include acute poisoning, kidney and liver damage, imbalances in the intestinal microbiome and intestinal functioning, cancer, genotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental reduction, neurological damage, and immune system dysfunction.

Aggressive public relations and marketing by glyphosate’s developer, Monsanto, has resulted in the widespread perception that the chemical is ‘safe’. Registration processes continue to allow its use without raising concerns about its safety even as new data identifying adverse effects emerge.

This review dispels this myth of ‘safety’ and highlights the urgent need to re-examine the authorization of products containing glyphosate. A full chemical profile is presented, along with the regulatory status of products containing glyphosate in many countries and information on viable alternatives.

Glyphosate is included in PAN International’s “List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides” (1) targeted for global phaseout. The global network is calling for the herbicide to be replaced by agroecological approaches to weed management in diversified cropping systems and non-crop situations.

Glyphosate is sprayed on numerous crops and plantations, including about 80% of genetically engineered, or GE crops, as well as a pre-harvest desiccant, which results in high food residues. It is also widely used in home gardens and public places including roadsides, and semi-natural and natural habitats. Due to its widespread use residues are now detected in different types of foods, drinking water, wine and beer; and even in non-food products derived from GM cotton. The extent of human exposure is confirmed by the presence of glyphosate in human urine wherever it has been tested, principally in Europe and North America; it has also been found in breast milk in the USA.

The 2015 classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen resulted in widespread concern about its continued use, especially pre-harvest and in public places.

As a result, national bans and restrictions, and voluntary action by local authorities and retailers to curb use are rising dramatically. Sri Lanka was the first country to ban it completely, although the ban has recently been relaxed to allow use in tea plantations; Italy has banned pre-harvest use, and all use in public places and those frequented by children and the elderly; France is phasing out the use of pesticides in towns and public areas; and the European Union has extended approval for glyphosate for only 18 months instead of the usual 15 years. The research and evidence detailed in the review released today provides valuable scientific evidence for all communities wanting to follow these leads.

Environmental impacts detailed in the monograph are no less concerning, and include adverse effects on ecosystem functioning, pollination services, biological controls, soil fertility and crop health. Residues are widespread in the environment, including in rainwater, surface and ground waters, and the marine environment. Glyphosate can persist in some soils for up to 3 years; and there is some evidence of bioaccumulation.

Resistance to glyphosate is now recorded in 35 weed species and in 27 countries, mostly caused by the repeated use of glyphosate in GE crops, no-till agriculture, and amenity use.

The monograph also contains a useful section on alternative weed management and provides information on a wide variety of non-chemical approaches to weed management in various situations.

Keith Tyrell, Director, PAN-UK:
“This new study from PAN International’s team of scientists clearly shows that glyphosate can cause a multitude of health and environmental problems. Our regulator’s need to wake up and ban this chemical now.”

Dr Meriel Watts, PAN New Zealand:
“The time has come for global recognition of the widespread harm caused to people and the environment from the constant use of glyphosate. For too long regulators have ignored the mounting evidence of damage, hiding behind unpublished studies by Monsanto, which not surprisingly paint a picture of a benign chemical startlingly at odds with reality.”

Fernando Bejarano, PAN Mexico (RAPAM)
“The intrinsic hazards of glyphosate and their use in tolerant transgenic crops are unacceptable if we want to achieve a sustainable food system, so we need a global phase out and a shift in policies promoting instead agroecological alternatives for weed control and crop rotation in diversified crop systems.”

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany:
“In 2017 the European Chemicals Agency has to decide whether it accepts the compelling evidence for glyphosate’s carcinogenicity and declares it a carcinogen. This would be an overdue acknowledgement of the reality.”

Dr. Emily Marquez, staff scientist, PAN North America:
“The glyphosate mess illustrates the problems with industrial agriculture. Farmers are again trapped on a pesticide treadmill, as widespread adoption of Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Roundup-Ready” crops resulted in glyphosate-resistant superweeds. And yet again, human health impacts of the chemical come to light after years of widespread use. It’s time to shift away from this failing cycle of chemical reliance.”

Jayakumar Chelaton, PAN India
“Every month we get a new story of how glyphosate is harming people in the farms and off farms in rural India. It is clearly damaging people and planet.”

Sarojeni V. Rengam, PAN Asia and the Pacific
“Glyphosate is a highly hazardous pesticide. There are other ecosystem based non-chemical alternatives that do not require the use of such hazardous herbicides.  We therefore urge Monsanto and other agrochemical corporations to stop the production and marketing of glyphosate in order to ensure the health of people and the environment.”

Dr Angeliki Lyssimachou, PAN Europe
This remarkable compilation of scientific studies reveals that glyphosate-based pesticides -despite what their manufactures’ claim- are far from ‘safe’. Hundreds of non-industry funded studies show that these products are gradually poisoning our people, our environment and its ecosystems. Regulators must stop playing blind and take action to ban all uses of glyphosate.”

The full Monograph review can be accessed here <>

Supporting Documents

(1)  PAN International’s “List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides”

For more information please contact:

Dr Meriel Watts, PAN New Zealand: +64-21-1807830; <>

Keith Tyrell, PAN-UK: +44 (0) 7588706224: <>

Paul Towers, PAN North America: 915-216-1082, <>

Dr. Peter Clausing
, PAN Germany: +49 (0) 176-7801 2705, <>

PAN Aotearoa/NZ supports Hawai'ian collleagues - 28 January 2016

Statement from PAN International  in support of Hawai’ian colleagues

We, as members of the international community from Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the continental United States, convened by Pesticide Action Network, are gathered in Hawaiʻi in January 2016 to stand in solidarity with the movements in Hawaiʻi working to free the islands from the toxic influence of pesticide/genetic engineering (GE) corporations.

Hawaiʻi is ground zero for the development, experimental use and production of pesticide–promoting genetically engineered crops. Five chemical corporations –Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow, DuPont/Pioneer and BASF – facilitated by the government of Hawai’i – occupy tens of thousands of acres of the most fertile agricultural land, including public land which should rightfully be in the hands of the Kānaka Maoli (Hawaiian nationals). According to state law, water in Hawaiʻi is part of the public trust and cannot be privatized. Yet these corporations divert and contaminate this most precious and important common resource, leaving quality agricultural lands and key habitats without a source of water.

These land and water grabs are resulting in severe damage to the ecology of Hawaiʻi, and place the burden of health and environmental costs onto local communities, with no accountability for – or compensation from – the agrochemical industry.

These corporations are holding Hawaiʻi’s people hostage. Successful democratic processes on seven of the eight Hawaiian islands resulted in policies requiring disclosure of pesticide use, a moratorium on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) until health and environmental effects are evaluated, and pesticide-free buffer zones around sensitive sites like schools and hospitals. Now the chemical corporations have sued all of the counties that passed such policies, stopping their implementation – for the time being.

We can look at Hawaiʻi to see the nature of these companies and their products: parts of the archipelago are sprayed as much as 250 days per year, or seven out of ten days year round. Many local doctors and nurses have submitted official testimony stating concern that they may be witnessing higher rates of asthma, hormonal diseases, rare cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, and skin disorders in communities living adjacent to experimental fields. Companies have fought even basic notification rules so that families and schools are unable to protect their children from regular chemical exposure.  

Workers and their families are most impacted. Just two days ago, ten Syngenta agricultural workers were poisoned by Dow’s product chlorpyrifos and sent to the hospital on Kaua’i.  Agricultural workers around the world face similar dangers of acute poisonings and chronic long-term exposure. Similar to other plantations around the world, many of those working on agrochemical operations in Hawai i are migrants that have themselves been directly displaced by corporate agribusiness.

Let’s be clear: none of the crops these corporations are growing feed people in Hawai i; Hawaiʻi imports more than 90% of its food. The seeds grown in Hawaiʻi feed primarily factory farms and fuel cars. They are the foundation of the fossil-fuel and resource intensive, polluting, and climate-devastating industrial agricultural system. As has been acknowledged by the most prestigious international bodies, feeding the world sustainably requires a dramatic transformation away from this system.

That these corporations will act so boldly and rashly in the endangered species capitol of the world portends great threat to the rest of our global ecology and humanity. The fight to end the overuse of chemical pesticides and their increasing promotion through genetic engineering begins in Hawaiʻi, and extends around the world.  

In Africa, these technologies are being pushed by the same corporations that are engineering hunger and working to control and patent staple food crops. In Asia, the debt engendered by these chemical corporations and their expensive, patented technologies, has driven rural crises, including an increase in farmer suicides. In the last ten years we have seen a heightened and very aggressive attempt to transform the landscape of ecologically sound food-producing land to genetically modified crops. Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay have become the “transgenic soybean republic,” with devastating health impacts from the associated rise of pesticide use. In Mexico, birthplace of maize, there is strong resistance to genetic theft and GMO maize. In the continental United States – where around half of the farmland is planted GE crops — farmers are facing fewer market options, higher input costs, superweeds, and damage to surrounding crops and ecosystems, while too many rural families face cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

We link our struggles to the struggles of the people of Hawaiʻi. We pledge our commitment to stand together and organize our communities to protect our homes, our children, and our shared planet. The agrochemical industry is global and so is our collective fight.
Together, we will work towards:
1.   Advancing sustainable agriculture as a holistic, scientific approach and a movement for social transformation that upholds local knowledge and respects indigenous cultures, integrates participatory research, empowerment of women, farmer control over land, water, seeds and forests, protection of workers’ rights and of rural communities, appropriate technology, bio-diversity conservation, access to and equitable distribution of food, equitable sharing of benefits and food self-sufficiency respecting ecological integrity.
2.   Contributing actively to the elimination of harmful pesticides and other agrochemicals and the generation, innovation and promotion of ecological alternatives to pesticide use, especially organic and ecological agriculture with biological, agricultural and cultural diversity as the basis for sustainable communities.
3. Eliminating the use of harmful pesticides in buildings, transporation, household, public health and other non-agricultural pest control areas.
4.   Fighting for local, national and international agreements to restrict, reduce and eliminate pesticide dependence and to phase out and ban pesticides that cause acute and chronic effects, including endocrine disruption and cancer.
5.   Ensuring food for all, including national policies that promote and ensure the right to food in order to achieve the improvement of human and environmental health. And establishing Food Sovereignty as the inalienable right of peoples, communities, and countries to define, decide and implement their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.
6.   Creating awareness of the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and campaigning to stop the development and use of GMOs in food, agriculture, pharmaceutical crops and animals, forestry and prevent terminator seeds. We demand the implementation of the precautionary principle to prevent the spread of the use of GMOs.
7.   Withdrawal of subsidies for environmentally-unsound agricultural technologies and end all aid by international development agencies for hazardous pesticides, GMOs and industrial agriculture promotion.
8.   Strengthening people’s movements and empowering women, peasants, poor farmers, fisherfolk, dalits, landless farmworkers, Indigenous people, migrant workers and bonded laborers to participate fully in asserting and promoting their rights, decision making in their societies and access to land, resources and knowledge.
9.   Strengthening and integrating gender issues in all agriculture programmes from planning to implementation and evaluation.
10. Empowering communities to monitor and resist the impact of trade policies, technologies, and industries that affect their health and livelihoods. Launching and supporting campaigns against corporate globalization and the international institutions and instruments that are destroying people’s production and promoting corporate and industrial agriculture.
11. Achieving the public release of information by all companies, governments and institutions on production, use and trade of pesticides and GMOs. Demand full accountability and liability for injustices by corporations and governments and full compensation for damages for persons, communities and countries.
To find out more about the situation and struggle in Hawaii:

Video: <>
Hawaii Center for Food Safety, Report: Pesticides in Paradise <>
The Guardian:
Residents’ lawsuit against DuPont/Pioneer:!video—pesticides-on-kauai/c1vm3 <!video—pesticides-on-kauai/c1vm3>
Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A): < <> >
Hawaii SEED:
The Shaka Movement:
Molokai Mom (video):

Monsanto’s flagship pesticide linked to cancer and antibiotic resistance” - 2 April 2015

PAN International calls for strong response!

The International Agency for Research and Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The IARC concluded that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. The decision was made after 17 scientists met on March 20 at the IARC to assess the carcinogenicity of the herbicide glyphosate and 4 organophosphate pesticides.

“Monsanto’s weed-killer glyphosate is wreaking havoc with the health of children and rural communities in Argentina,” said Javier Souza, chair of Pesticide Action Network International. “Thousands of people suffer from glyphosate poisoning related illnesses and the cancer rates are two to four times higher than the national average”. Souza from Argentina, referred to his country’s 24 million hectares of crops, mostly soybeans, genetically engineered (GE) to resist glyphosate. In 2014, 79 million gallons of glyphosate were applied on soybeans and other crops in Argentina. Ahead of Argentina is Brazil with 40 million hectares of GE crops, mostly soybeans. Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia also grow millions of hectares with GE soy resistant to glyphosate.

Monsanto is the creator of its brand-name herbicide Roundup, containing the active ingredient glyphosate, and of GE soybean, corn, and cotton resistant to withstand applications of glyphosate. Glyphosate has become the most heavily used herbicide in the world, bringing billions of dollars in profits to the giant biotech company. In the United States, about 94% soybeans, 89% corn, 91% cotton are GE resistant to glyphosate.

“Glyphosate and other herbicides have been linked to antibiotic resistance,” said Judy Hatcher, vice-chair of PAN International. “The combination of carcinogenicity and antibiotic resistance by Monsanto’s flagship pesticide are two loud wake-up calls for the global community. Policymakers as a matter of highest priority, should keep the next wave of genetically engineered seeds – containing glyphosate and other old, hazardous chemicals – off the market” she added.

Researchers in New Zealand have found that formulations of herbicides containing glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba can lead to development of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella.

“In Asia glyphosate is widely used and the link with carcinogenicity and antibiotic resistance is an area of concern for farmers and agricultural workers who are exposed” said Sarojeni Rengam from PAN Asia Pacific.

“Experience in Africa and other parts of the world show that toxic agrochemicals affect the poorest of the poor, and this situation cannot go on as usual” said Abou Thiam from PAN Africa.

“Hazardous pesticides are part of an obsolete technology and don’t belong in agriculture” added Keith Tyrell from PAN UK. Carina Weber from PAN Germany remarked “This is an opportunity for policymakers to exercise their political will and move the world forward towards sustainable, healthy agriculture, free from toxins”.

As a result of the new research, PAN International calls on governments and policymakers to take first emergency measures to curtail and stop the use of herbicide formulations containing glyphosate applied to genetically engineered seeds and crops. And the network urges governments to develop action plans within the next 60 days to layout how they will address the concerns highlighted in recent studies. Furthermore, PAN International urges governments to stop the release and marketing of highly hazardous pesticides, and establish policies to promote safer agricultural practices that protect workers, consumers, the environment, and provides a dignified living to farmers.


Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is a network of over 600 participating nongovernmental organizations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.

Contact: Javier Souza, Chair of PAN International & PAN Latin America:, 0054 11 36171782 Paul Towers, PAN North America:, cell: +1 916 216 1082 Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific:, +6 04 657 0271 Abou Thiam, PAN Africa:, +221 338254914 Keith Tyrell, PAN UK:, +44 7588 706224 Susan Haffmans, PAN Germany:, +49 40 3991910 25

Auckland spray is “probably carcinogenic” - 22 March 2015

Weed Management Advisory – Media Release – 22nd March 2015

The World Health Organisation’s cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has this week re-classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. The IARC reassessment published in the Journal Lancet Oncology is a wake- up call for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport says the Weed Management Advisory group (WMA). Speaking from New York where she is one of the authors of UNEP’s forthcoming global assessment of gender and the environment, Dr Meriel Watts said that the use of this chemical on the roads, parks and sports fields in Auckland cannot now continue in the face of this latest damning assessment.

“For more than 25 years we have known of the evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer. But the regulators in New Zealand, and in other countries, have refused to heed it. As a result, countless numbers of children have been exposed to this chemical from roadside weed spraying as they walk to school, and in the parks and sports fields where they play” said Dr Watts.

“Children are particularly susceptible to carcinogens”.

Dr Watts, who is a scientist and author has published several authoritative books on the subject of pesticides and cancer including her 2013 “Poisoning Our Future: Children and Pesticides” which details the scientific evidence for the insidious effects of pesticides on children.

“Children are not little adults. The activities they do make them more prone to accumulate pesticides in their bodies; and their developing bodies make them more prone to the negative effects of these toxic chemicals like glyphosate. Yet, governments and industry overlook these impacts on children’s health despite the availability of safer alternatives.”

The WMA says that they have been documenting, detailing and promoting these safer alternatives for years and that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport must wake-up now, drop their baffling and disturbing opposition to nonchemical weed management, and stop using glyphosate.

“It is totally unacceptable to continue to expose people, and especially children, to glyphosate in light of this ruling from the IARC,” said Dr Watts. She emphasised that the IARC is a conservative scientific body “and if they say that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen we can be sure that it is”.

The WMA said they will be pursuing this urgently with Auckland Council, especially in view of the fact that the Long Term Plan budget proposes dropping nonchemical weed control in favour of increasing the use of pesticides. Hana Blackmore said this flies in the face of all reason, Council’s own adopted policy, and the 2014 Human Rights Impact Assessment that confirms that continuing to expose Aucklanders to these toxic chemical sprays is a violation of their human rights.

“Both Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have a fundamental duty to keep people safe and protect their health and wellbeing. They need to take this latest UN Report and our human rights seriously, and eliminate these chemicals from our environment and our children’s lives” said Hana Blackmore.

The WMA will be presenting to Auckland Council before Easter.


Safe Food Campaign media release 4 December 2014

New Zealand baby food contained nearly 800 times more pesticides than baby food in Europe, according to a recent analysis. This evidence and why this is a risk to New Zealand babies will be presented tomorrow to the Primary Production Committee by Dr Meriel Watts of the Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa and Alison White of the Safe Food Campaign(*).

Their oral submissions are in support of a petition presented to parliament earlier this year calling for zero tolerance of pesticides in baby food.

“We want New Zealand to follow the European directives which basically stipulate a zero tolerance policy”, stated Ms White. “Three of the pesticides found in New Zealand baby food are hazardous for young children and babies in the womb. Kiwi babies deserve the same level of protection as they have in the EU.”

Analysis of a government study shows more than 30% of New Zealand baby food contained pesticide residues whereas less than 1% (0.04%) of European baby food did so.

Five pesticides were detected in 32 baby food samples of the last NZ Total Diet Survey of 2009, which included testing of formula, cereal based, custard/fruit and savoury weaning foods. The EU analysis of 2,062 baby foods showed residues in only 0.04% of samples in 2010.

“Some of the pesticides found are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, for which no safe level has been scientifically established, and doses thousands of times lower than those generally considered toxic are known to interfere with normal human development,” said Ms White.

“Children have unique windows of vulnerability which adults do not have”, said Dr Watts. “Extremely low doses which may not have an immediate effect on adults can critically interfere with children’s ongoing developmental processes. This may result in lifelong alterations in growth and development, organ formation, as well as disease occurrence. One of the key outcomes of exposure to even tiny amounts of pesticides like chlorpyrifos is lowered IQ and delayed development.”

Dr Watts is senior scientist for the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific, and last year published a book Poisoning our future: children and pesticides, in which she collates a substantial amount of research on why children are at risk from pesticides, even from very low doses.

The Safe Food Campaign also thinks the government should do a more extensive analysis of baby food.

“More extensive and regular surveys need to be done of baby food not only to monitor the proposed legislation but also to provide a more adequate baseline for comparison over time and with other countries,” said Ms White.

New Zealand Joins International Action to Protect Children from Pesticides. - 9th June 2014

With the world using about 50 times more pesticides today than six decades ago, their harmful impact on the environment and human health has increased alarmingly – and evidence is growing that children are especially vulnerable.

On World Environment Day, Pesticide Action Network (PAN)  Asia and the Pacific and PAN North America jointly launched a campaign to  protect children from pesticides.

Aside from those used in agriculture and food production, pesticides used in homes, schools, gardens and public places expose children to debilitating and life-long health problems including  birth defects, asthma, autism, cancers, diabetes, and other childhood and adult-onset diseases and disorders.

“Infants are infinitely more sensitive to pesticides than adults. At the early stage of their lives their immune systems, their endocrine systems and their neurological systems are all still developing, their brains are developing and they’re very sensitive to the effects of even very small doses of pesticides,” said Dr. Meriel Watts, senior scientific advisor to PAN AP and a New Zealand-based specialist on pesticides, and author of the book published last year, Poisoning our Future: Children and Pesticides

The campaign highlights 20 pesticides that are particularly hazardous for children. All of them interfere with children’s developing hormonal system (endocrine disruptors). Some cause acute poisoning, many are implicated in cancers including childhood cancers, and some cause behavioural changes and reduced intellectual ability in children. Twelve of the 20 are known to contaminate breast milk  and 11  have been found in placental cord blood and/or children’s first faeces – meconium – meaning the children are being born pre-polluted.

“That children are being born already contaminated with pesticides that will undermine their intellectual ability and their health for the rest of their lives, is a tragedy beyond measure. This must stop. It is up to every government to make sure that children are protected from these damaging chemicals by banning them and making sure they are never again used in our countries,” Dr. Watts said.

Whilst the European Union has already banned 12 of the 20 pesticides, New Zealand continues to use 14 of them, including  7 banned by the EU. Some of these were partially reassessed by the EPA last year but their use was allowed to continue because  farmers/growers said they need them.

“Apparently the New Zealand government cares more about what growers say they need, even though safer alternatives exist, than it does about children’s health and the future of society. Just one of those pesticides, chlorpyrifos, known to reduce children’s IQ, is linked by international scientists with a silent pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity that is undermining the functioning of society.”

A summary of the effects of the 20 pesticides can be found here.

Factsheets on the 20 pesticides can be found at

The 20 pesticides are: atrazine,   carbaryl,   chlorothalonil,   chlorpyrifos,   cyhalothrin,   cypermethrin,   DDT,   deltamethrin,   diazinon,   dichlorvos,   malathion, mancozeb,   maneb,   methamidophos,   methyl parathion,   monocrotophos,   paraquat,   parathion,   permethrin,   propoxur.

Chlorpyrifos found in NZ streams - it should have been banned - 25th of July 2013.

A just published scientific study* on levels of pesticides in New Zealand streams has found that the most frequently detected pesticide is the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, found in 87% of samples taken from South Island streams.

“This is devastating news for New Zealand”, said Dr Meriel Watts of Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand. “Pregnant women and small children should not be exposed to chlorpyrifos. At very low levels it interferes with brain development in the unborn foetus and newborn infants, resulting in altered brain structure, lowered IQ, and behavioural changes including pervasive developmental disorder, leading to potential long-term consequences for social adjustment and academic achievement. The effects reported in studies are regarded by some scientists as comparable to those of lead and tobacco smoke. Chlorpyrifos is also an endocrine disruptor interfering with androgens, oestrogen, and thyroid hormones, and is a risk for breast cancer.”

Chlorpyrifos is persistent in the environment and bioaccumulative. Residues of chlorpyrifos are widespread in the Arctic, even more common than endosulfan which New Zealand banned in 2008, and there are worldwide efforts  to get it listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants for a global ban.

Residues of chlorpyrifos have been found in the air over the Southern Alps, and this latest study found it in pine needles on organic farms were it is not used, indicating both its ability to move away from were it is used and its persistence in the environment.

“The EPA have recently reassessed chlorpyrifos  and given it the green light even for aerial spraying despite its volatility. But they failed to  assess it for persistence and bioaccumulation. They failed to assess it for long range transport, and they failed to properly assess it for neurodevelopmental effects. They completely ignored a detailed submission from PAN ANZ of information on safer alternatives for every one of chlorpyrifos uses that EPA had identified, and instead decided that because growers said they need it, they can have it.  The EPA did an appalling job of its reassessment and now we have even more evidence that this chemical must go. What will it take before the EPA decides to protect the environment and peoples health rather than chemicals?”

  • Shahpoury et al. 2013. Chlorinated pesticides in stream sediments from organic, integrated and conventional, farms. Environmental Pollution 181(219-225).

Guatemala and India block listing of toxic paraquat formulation in the Rotterdam Convention Geneva - 10th of May 2013.

Industry representative deceives delegates by speaking on behalf of Guatemalan government.

Failure to list will deprive countries of their right to know and to take informed decisions about import Geneva, Switzerland (10 May 2013) – More than 120 government parties to the Rotterdam Convention support the listing of paraquat (20%) as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. However, at the 6th Conference of Parties, Guatemala together with India blocked the listing of paraquat. A Convention listing would not ban paraquat but simply require exporters to notify and get permission from importing countries. Guatemala gave a long list of initial reasons for opposing the listing but finally admitted that they feared a listing would result in some countries in the region saying no to imports of paraquat from Guatemala (a major formulator of the herbicide). Delegates were even more surprised when they finally learned that the delegate speaking on behalf of the Guatemalan government at the beginning of the negotiation was actually an industry observer who did not reveal his identity to negotiators until a day later. The Secretariat later on expelled him from the conference. Nevertheless, the co-chairs of the Working Group concluded that no consensus for listing was achieved and proceeded to draft a decision document postponing the discussion to the next COP. The next day the African Group supported by others requested that the discussion on the listing of paraquat continue at this COP because the misconduct of the industry representative from Guatemala had derailed the process. However, this additional session did not change the position of India and Guatemala. Read the full Press Release here.