PANNA: U.S. Pesticide Exports Remain High


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U.S. Pesticide Exports Remain High
January 11, 2002

Nearly 3.2 billion pounds of pesticide products were exported from U.S. ports between 1997 and 2000, according to a Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education (FASE) analysis of Customs records recently published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH). This average rate of almost 2.2 million pounds per day–or 45 tons per hour–represents a 15% increase over the rate of 936 tons per day documented for the years 1992-1996.

Nearly 65 million pounds of pesticides were exported between 1997 and 2000 that are banned or severely restricted in the United States, an average of more than 22 tons per day. Although no exports of banned products were recorded for the year 2000, shipments of several banned pesticides — including captafol, chlordane, isazofos, monocrotophos and mirex — were noted between 1997 and 1999.

Fifty-seven percent of these products were shipped to destinations in the developing world and almost half of the remaining 43% were shipped to ports in Belgium and the Netherlands, with possible final destinations in developing countries.

“Pesticide poisoning has long been a problem in developing countries,” said Joe LaDou, the editor of IJOEH. Dr. LaDou solicited a series of papers on international pesticide use and integrated pest management (IPM) that will fill three volumes of the journal. “These researchers and public policy experts have revealed that the problem of international pesticide use has greater dimensions than most public health and public policy experts recognize. There is an urgent need for greater attention to these issues, and increased funding for research into occupational and environmental health effects,” LaDou commented.

The FASE export report is the latest in an ongoing series that the foundation has published since 1990. Among the other findings:

* In the four-year period studied, at least 89 million pounds of pesticides were exported that have been designated “extremely hazardous” by the World Health Organization, an average rate of more than 30 tons per day. Exports of EPA “Class I,” or highly toxic, products totaled over 140 million pounds between 1997 and 2000, or an average rate of just over two tons per hour.

* Products that have never been registered in the U.S. were exported at an average rate of at least 16 tons per day during the four years examined, with the total for such products possibly being much larger. The largest volume never-registered chemicals were butachlor (nearly 14 million pounds total) and carbosulfan (10.2 million pounds).

* Total exports of “restricted use” pesticides–those that may only be purchased and used by state-certified applicators in the U.S. but that are often available to the general public in developing countries — exceeded 284 million pounds over the four-year period examined, an average rate of four tons per hour. Although exports of such pesticides totaled more than six million pounds less in 2000 than in 1997, the export of the ozone-depleting chemical methyl bromide was 68% higher in 2000 than four years earlier.

* Nearly 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides were exported that have been identified as known or suspected carcinogens, an average rate of almost 16 tons per hour.

FASE gathered the data using commercial transcriptions of U.S. Customs records of shipments from U.S. Ports. Although this is the most comprehensive source of export information available in the public record, FASE emphasizes that it remains only a partial source of production and trade information since many details are protected as “confidential business information.”

The paper’s recommendations for decreasing pesticide use include prohibiting the export of banned or never registered pesticides from the U.S.; empowering the EPA to evaluate fully the hazards posed by pesticides leaving the U.S. and giving the agency the authority to act on its findings; and improving the quality and quantity of information regarding pesticide production, trade and use and putting the information in the public record.

“The fact that no banned products were exported in 2000 seems to indicate that recent international efforts such as the PIC (Prior Informed Consent) and POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) treaties are making a difference,” said FASE Vice President Carl Smith, who authored the IJOEH paper. “But exports of products that cannot be safely used in developing countries remain unacceptably high. There can be no double standard for protecting health and the environment.”

Source: Excerpted from a paper originally published in International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (Vol. 7, No. 4). The next two issues in IJOEH’s Special Series will present the health effects of international pesticide use (Vol. 8, No. 1, available late January 2002) and IPM in developing countries (Vol. 8, No. 3, available August 2002). Contact IJOEH, 210 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107; phone (800) 962-1892 (U.S. only) or (215) 546-4995; fax (215) 790-9330; email [email protected]; Web site

Contact: Foundation for Advancement of Science and Education, 4801 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 215, Los Angeles, CA 90010; phone (323) 937-9911; fax (323) 937-7440; email [email protected].

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