Double standards from agrochemical corporations
In Europe and North America, it goes without saying that a pesticide may only be sold if the producer explicitly warns the consumer and public of the product’s risks. Consumers are even required to have official safety certification before purchasing certain pesticides. This is not the case, however, when international agrochemical corporations sell their products in the Global South. India is one example of a country where international companies sell pesticides that are strictly regulated or even banned in the companies’ home states.
Public Interest Litigation to Ban Highly Hazardous Pesticides in India
On 7 December 2016 the High Court in Delhi heard a public interest litigation petition (PIL) submitted in July 2014 by Indian activists to review the registration of 66 pesticides and decided to ban 18 of these pesticides. The registration of these particular pesticides was under question due to their highly hazardous nature – the pesticides are already banned in other countries throughout the world, also in the European Union (EU).
The litigation is spearheaded by Swadeshi Andolan with legal representation from ECCHR partner the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) in India. The PIL has asked the High Court to cancel the registration of 47 pesticides and to compel the government to publish the data on 66 pesticides which indicate why they have been banned in other countries. ECCHR supported this petition by compiling information on banning decisions and restrictions in the EU.
Video: “Tackling the Accountability Gap“ – Legal tools to hold pesticides companies accountable
In some cases pesticide companies ignore both local rules and internationally-recognized standards. It seems that when it comes to the right to health, life and the preservation of natural resources, the law does not apply equally to all. This is clear from several cases examined by ECCHR in international workshops and research trips to India and the Philippines since 2013.
Wrongdoing by agrochemical companies has to date rarely come before the courts. The liability of pesticide producers for health and environmental harm has been recognized in only very few cases, largely because of the legal obstacles. ECCHR tries to overcome these difficulties by using alternative legal tools such as lodging complaints with the Panel of Experts on Pesticides Management at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Farmer's Testimonials on Pesticides' ImpactCaseReport_Pesticides_IndiaPunjab_FAO_20151009.pdf (495.3 KiB)
UN Special Rapporteur calls for Due Diligence for Chemical Industry
The UN Special Rapporteur on the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances Baskut Tuncak has called on the German government to include in its National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights clear due diligence obligations for chemicals companies. In his appeal, the Special Rapporteur referred to the ECCHR monitoring report on Bayer and Syngenta’s pesticides sales practices in India.