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.
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 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).
In fall 2017, hundreds of farmers were poisoned, some severely, in the central Indian region of Yavatmal. Official documents from India show that the pesticide Polo from the Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta played an important role in the poisonings, and their sometimes fatal consequences.
ECCHR and its partner organizations urged the FAO/WHO in an open letter and monitoring report to implement urgently needed changes to effectively address the widespread mismanagement of pesticides worldwide.
Bayer CropScience sells highly toxic pesticides in India. The company fails to ensure that consumers are adequately informed of both the dangers of pesticides and the requisite protective measures.
Research by ECCHR showed: Syngenta’s pesticide Gramoxone – which is banned in many countries including throughout the EU – is used on plantations in Indonesia and the Philippines with almost no protective measures.