A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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West Bengal women and children peasants beaten by police; U.S. Senators fight EPA library closures; Pesticide victims await justice; Another New York County enacts pesticide notification law, and more…
December 14, 2006
Indian peasants evicted from land, beaten: Peasant farmers from the Singur area of the Indian province of West Bengal were beaten and jailed when they resisted attempts to evict them from land they have farmed for generations. Most of the injured were women and children, who had remained in the villages after the men had fled the night before, fearing arrest. Thousands of police and paramilitary troops had camped out in the district before the December 2nd raid. Civil society and food sovereignty advocates around the world are calling for a halt to police violence and justice for the peasant farmers of Singur. Read more from the Asian Center for Human Rights and NDTV.com
North American agreement on lindane: The North American Regional Action Plan (NARAP) on Lindane and Other Hexachlorocyclohexane Isomers was released Nov. 30th, 2006. The Lindane plan was produced by a trinational task force including government officials, academics, industry, public health NGOs and indigenous groups from Mexico, the United States and Canada. NARAPs are designed to reduce the threat from toxic chemicals that affect all three countries, and the Lindane Task Force was coordinated by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC process led Mexico to phase out all uses of lindane, and contributed to the recent U.S. ban of all agricultural uses. Lindane remains approved by FDA for use in lice shampoos and scabies lotions in the U.S., and minimal pharmaceutical uses remain in Canada as well. See the CEC report for details. Lindane is linked to risk of brain tumors and other effects. “It’s shameful that FDA still allows the use of this neurotoxin in shampoos and lotions, despite all the evidence collected by CEC’s lindane task force—and despite the fact that 52 countries around the world have found safer alternatives,” says PANNA Program Coordinator Kristin Schafer. Find out how you can help ban lindane for pharmaceutical use.
EPA closes six libraries; Senators write letter of protest: Citing budget cuts, EPA political appointees shut down six EPA libraries, getting rid of many reports, books, and studies that staff scientists say are crucial to their work. The Los Angeles Times reported that 18 U.S. Senators wrote a letter to their colleagues last month saying “Congress should not allow EPA to gut its library system, which plays a critical role in supporting the agency’s mission to protect the environment and public health.” The Senators want the libraries re-opened until Congress can review the plan. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility reports that EPA political appointees rushed to get rid of library collections before Congressional intervention.
Central American victims of pesticides still await justice: Nemagon is the brand name for dibromochloropropane or DBCP, a PAN “Bad Actor” chemical. Called “Death’s Dew” by Central American banana plantation workers, it has caused “unusually high rates of sterility, kidney and uterine cancer and skin disease in those exposed…as well as birth defects,” according to the New York Daily News. Dr. Francisco López, a Nicaraguan physician said, “I believe the pesticide contributed to many of the health problems we are seeing…. It’s a tragedy.” Activists estimate 16,500 people were harmed and more than 1,000 died from occupational exposure to DBCP in Nicaragua while working for multinationals including Dole and United Fruit. The corporations deny any responsibility for the harm inflicted by Nemagon. Several lawsuits have been decided or are pending against the companies responsible, though the corporations often ignore judgments and when payments are made, very little may reach injured workers. Click here to read more about DBCP.
Pennsylvania focuses on biological pest control for vegetable production: Penn State researchers have teamed with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to develop methods for farming with fewer chemical pesticides. A new program is teaching growers how to develop Integrated Pest Management (IPM). “Because of market demand and new regulations, growers need to develop IPM strategies that reduce risk by using alternatives to pesticides.… Reducing the use of pesticides also creates a safer working environment for farm workers, while reducing the regulatory requirements placed on the grower,” according to PDA IPM program coordinator Kathy Thomas. Pennsylvania vegetable growers have typically been heavy pesticide consumers, with particularly greater use on snap peas, sweet corn and pumpkins. The Lancaster Farming website has the story.
Ulster County, New York, sets pesticide notification rule: Ulster became the ninth New York county to pass a rule requiring pesticide notification to neighbors when pesticides are being applied. Emmett Pepper, Program Coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, told the Poughkeepsie Journal: “We’d like to thank the Legislature for ensuring that Ulster County residents will be afforded protection from pesticide drift under the Pesticide Neighbor Notification Law. This is a common sense law that simply requires the decency of letting neighbors know when toxic chemicals are nearby.”
PAN activist honored for courage: PAN Philippines leader Dr. Romy Quijano was honored recently by the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS). Dr.Suwit Wibulpolpraset, outgoing president of IFCS, said of Romy: “He is a man who is willing to go to prison for his conviction in protecting human health and the environment from chemical harm”. The award was for Romy’s “courage and perpetual conviction for the struggle against chemical hazards” as well as his service to the poor. In response, Romy spoke about the principle of Community Pesticide Action Monitoring and described its impact: “To document and create awareness of the impacts of pesticides on human health and the environment. It is based on participatory action research, providing tools for observation and reporting, and it encourages community organizing, education and empowerment for positive change. Through self-surveillance, surveys, observations and documentation, communities, agricultural workers, farmers and rural women have been able to take action for change.” The Philippine newspaper Sun Star has the story. Romy and his daughter were featured in “Speaking Truth,” PAN North America Magazine fall issue.
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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