Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
Canadian Government Sued for Banning Lindane
Although lindane is banned for use on canola crops in the U.S., the Canadian government’s move to do the same prompted the suit by Crompton Corp. The company claims that the Canadian government broke an earlier agreement it made with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), a Canadian government agency that oversees pesticide registration. Crompton Corp. had agreed to stop making lindane products at the end of 1999 pending a full PMRA review of the pesticide’s safety, to be completed by the end of 2000. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently completing its own review and reregistration of lindane for a number of other uses in the United States.
In a push for ‘harmonization’ of regulations, Crompton Corp. agreed that it would not request the reinstatement of lindane in Canada if both the PMRA and the EPA found it unsafe to use on canola. However, the agreement also stipulated that if either government agency deemed lindane safe for use on canola, then it would be reregistered in Canada.
Although PMRA studies are not complete, the Canadian government banned lindane for use on canola as of July 1, 2001. While Crompton Corp. has protested, the Canadian government maintains that it has the fundamental right to ban the pesticide.
Under NAFTA, Crompton Corp. and the Canadian government have 90 days to reach a compromise after which, if no solution has been agreed upon, Crompton can ask for a binding arbitration panel that will decide whether or not Canada has to pay damages.
Many speculate that other trade pressures, not health and environmental concerns, were behind Canada’s decision. American canola growers, barred from using lindane, have complained that they are at a competitive disadvantage compared to Canadian growers since lindane substitute products are considerably more expensive.
One of Pesticide Action Network International’s Dirty Dozen pesticides, lindane is persistent in the environment, highly toxic, a suspected endocrine disrupter and has been linked to breast cancer. Documented health effects of exposure to lindane include dizziness, seizures, nervous system damage, immune system damage and birth defects. It has been found in breast milk and blood samples throughout the world, and is the persistent chemical found most often in the arctic environment.
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