Double standards in the sale of pesticides
The transnational company Bayer AG from Germany distributes hazardous pesticides in India through its subsidiary BayerCropScience AG. The company however fails to ensure that consumers are adequately informed of both the dangers of pesticides and the requisite protective measures. Through this failure, Bayer AG is endangering the health and lives of tens of thousands of people. This is set out in the Monitoring Report submitted to the World Health Organization in October by ECCHR together with partner organizations from Europe and Asia.
Complaint against Bayer: Pesticides labels for India lack important warnings for pregnant women
One year later, in October 2016, ECCHR filed a complaint against Bayer CropScience AG and Bayer AG in Germany before the Chamber of Agriculture in North Rhine-Westphalia. The reason: pesticide labels must contain warnings about health and environmental risks. In Europe, Bayer sells Nativo with the warning that the product is “suspected of damaging the unborn child”. This warning is not given on the products sold in India by Bayer’s subsidiary Bayer CropScience Ltd..
German authorities do not adequately control export of pesticides
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) submitted a complaint to the Chamber calling on it to examine Bayer AG’s business practices.
The complaint to the Chamber is supported by ECCHR partner organizations Kheti Virasat Mission in India as well as FIAN Deutschland, MISEREOR and PAN Germany.
In February 2017 the Chamber’s department of plant protection has responded that it is not obliged to further examine the complaint. Upon ECCHR’s submission, the Chamber launched an initial investigation into the export of Nativo and found that Bayer sends the pesticide to India in “big bags”. These do include a warning about the risks to unborn children, but the warning is absent from the products as sold in India. Countries that export pesticides must ensure that good trading practices are adhered to,” emphasizes Terwindt.
The Chamber admitted that there was no monitoring of pesticides between 2014 and 2016, stating that they had no “indication that there were any nothworthy issues.” From October 2016 a national working group began working on a monitoring system.
Press Release on complaint against Bayer in GermanyCaseUpdate_Bayer_Nativo_ECCHR_20170313-1.pdf (154.5 KiB)
Case Report: Bayer's Sale and Distribution of Nativo in IndiaCaseReport_Bayer_Nativo_India_Germany_20161019.pdf (425.9 KiB)
Nativo: Risks for pregnant women, unborn and born children
Pesticides must be sold with warnings about the health and environmental risks. In Europe, Bayer sells Nativo with the obligatory warning: “suspected of damaging the unborn child.” This warning is not included on the products it exports to India. Consumers are not informed of ways to protect their skin and eyes.
The lack of warnings further increases the existing risks for women, who are more prone to absorbing pesticides through the skin. Particularly worrying is that the harmful chemicals can be transferred to the next generation during pregnancy and through breast milk.
Indian Ministry of Agriculture investigates Bayer regarding Nativo
In July 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture in New Delhi opened investigatory proceedings against Bayer subsidiary Bayer CropScience Ltd. (India) concerning the mislabeling and sale of Nativo in India. This follows a petition submitted to the Ministry by the Indian civil movement Swadeshi Andolan in December 2015. ECCHR assisted with the petition by providing legal expertise.
Activists in India are calling for an end to sales of Nativo, a review of the pesticide’s license, and criminal investigations against Bayer CropScience managers. Under Indian law, Bayer managers face a fine or a two-year prison sentence if convicted.
Confidor, Larvin, Regent: Hazardous Bayer pesticides on sale in India
Confidor is another of the pesticides sold in India by Bayer CropScience. In Germany this product is not permitted for general use in private gardens. Consumers must provide a proficiency certificate before they can purchase the pesticide. In Punjab, India however, anyone can easily obtain the product from retailers.
Confidor and other Bayer products on sale in stores in India such as Larvin and Regent contain active ingredients designated as “moderately dangerous” by the World Health Organization. These substances are however classified as highly hazardous by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN). PAN includes Thiodicarb (Larvin) in the list due to potential cancer risks and Fipronil (Regent) for its harmful effects on bees.
Thiodicarb has been banned in the European Union since 2007. The decision was taken in Brussels due to the particular risks posed to young children, birds and the environment as well as insufficient information on the dangers to humans in general and to groundwater.
ECCHR calls to maintain pressure on Bayer managers
In light of the business practices followed by these firms in India, ECCHR and the Coalition against BAYER Dangers called on Bayer shareholders at their annual assembly in April 2016 to maintain pressure on Bayer’s Board of Management and Supervisory Board. In particular ECCHR aims to ensure that Bayer halts the sale of pesticides such as Larvin and Nativo in India.