PANNA: DDT scandal at WHO; Toxic tours across U.S.; Physicians in Canada call for pesticide ban and more



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DDT scandal at WHO; Toxic tours across U.S.; Physicians in Canada call for pesticide ban and more

September 28, 2006

Scandal brewing over WHO’s promotion of DDT, health advocates call for investigation: Public and environmental health advocates from around the world demanded that the World Health Organization (WHO) withdraw its recent controversial announcement advising increased use of DDT for malaria control in Africa, and called on WHO governors to investigate the scandal within the global health agency. In a statement delivered to the hundreds of officials gathered in Budapest for the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety meeting this week, a broad coalition of medical professionals and toxics experts revealed dissension within WHO over the Sept. 15th press statement by Dr Arata Kochi, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Program. The announcement was significantly made in Washington DC instead of WHO headquarters in Geneva and was not based on any new assessment by WHO of DDT. The decision directly undermines the global treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Several WHO malaria experts have resigned in protest. Read the coalition response.

Indian activists protest DDT factory: In the wake of the WHO announcement promoting DDT for malaria control, residents living near the Hindustan Insecticides Ltd. DDT manufacturing plant in Kerala, India gathered to declare that their communities and livelihoods have been destroyed by DDT and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). On September 17, 2006, more than 500 people from Eloor and Edayar, India, presented nine community demands to the Indian government and WHO after suffering more than 50 years of pollution. The Eloor-Edayar statement read, “There is a growing political understanding that a paradigm where the present and future generations are denied clean air and water cannot be seen as development. Scientists…all over the world are working towards a dream of a hazardous pesticides- and chemical-free world by 2020. This vision statement is being put forward with a lot of hope by the people of Eloor and Edayar villages with the intention of achieving this dream.”

National tour of communities impacted by toxics: Calling for precautionary policies as a solution to unnecessary toxic contamination, environmental justice and chemical policy change activists are coordinating bus tours of three regions of the U.S. from September 24 through October 1. The tours are offering local perspectives, wisdom, dialogue and solutions from people impacted harder than most by toxic contamination. Each tour brings activists, policy-makers, and the media together to expose increasing toxic pollution, especially in communities of color. “Toxic chemicals are making people sick in communities throughout the nation,” said Martha Arguello, California tour coordinator from Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles and Californians for Pesticide Reform. Learn more.

Farmworkers sickened by aerial organophosphate spraying: On September 21, more than forty farmworkers became ill when an aerial application of Bayer Corporation’s Di-syston on an asparagus field drifted into the neighboring orchard where they were working. The incident occurred southwest of Sacramento, California. Disulfoton, the active ingredient in Di-syston, is a Pesticide Action Network “Bad Actor” organophosphate pesticide, a class of chemicals highly toxic to the nervous system. Anne Katten of California Rural Legal Assistance told reporters, “This is an extremely toxic chemical… workers should not enter a field…treated with Di-syston for 26 days, according to product information about its usage.” The Sacramento Bee reports.

Canadian physicians group calls for cosmetic pesticide ban: Physicians at the annual meeting of the Prince Edward Island Medical Society called for a ban on all cosmetic pesticides, but failed to call for an government study of links to rising cancer rates. “I’m disappointed that a study (on rising cancer rates) was not passed, but then the feeling I got today was that not many physicians are aware of the pesticide issues and that’s dismaying,” said Dr. Ron Matsusaki. Nonetheless, he continued, “We’ve got a foot in the door now and it’s the first time in history that the medical profession on Prince Edward Island has taken a stand on the issue.” The Prince Edward Island Guardian has the story.

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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