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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.

Endosulfan to be phased out globally!- 29 April 2011

29th April 2011 KILLER PESTICIDE ENDOSULFAN TO BE PHASED OUT GLOBALLY 29 April 2011. GENEVA: Gathered in Geneva this week, the nations of the world agreed to add endosulfan, an antiquated persistent insecticide, to the Stockholm Convention’s list of banned substances. Environmental health and justice organizations from around the world who have been working towards a ban welcomed the decision. Read the full Press Release here.

New Zealand Food Samples Still Stacked with Pesticide Residues

Oct 2010

  • Pesticide  residues found in 93% of targeted fruit and vege samples
  • Prohibited  endosulfan again in cucumber samples
  • 11  out of 23 Pak choi samples with residues exceeding allowable  levels
  • 26  different pesticides found among 24 grape samples
  • One  grape sample containing 10 different pesticides
  • Organic  fruit & vege free of synthetic pesticides

The Soil & Health Association – Organic NZ and the  Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa NZ are calling for an attitude change in New Zealand’s food safety regulators following two very similar pesticide residue result reports in 3 months, and, despite evidence to the contrary, continued assurances that there is no food safety issue. Read the full Press Release here.