FAO promotes dangerous advice on Syngenta’s deadly paraquat herbicide—compromising its independent status
Published: October 4, 2022
Category: Pesticides, The Non-GMO Blog
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has partnered with pesticide lobby group Croplife International—and is now nodding approval regarding the formula of a deadly herbicide associated with Croplife member Syngenta.
The partnership has been condemned by civil society organizations with critics saying it is like the World Health Organization teaming up with the tobacco industry.
Paraquat, banned in 50 countries and banned in Europe since 2007, is manufactured in UK and EU factories and exported worldwide. Tens of thousands of farmers and their family members have died from swallowing as little as one tablespoon of the chemical.
Syngenta added a vomiting agent to the formula to prevent poisoning deaths—but it did little to prevent them. Knowing this, Syngenta still presented it as effective. Former Syngenta toxicologist Jon Heylings, aware that the vomiting agent (codenamed PP796) concentration is far too little to trigger vomiting in most people, sounded the alarm in 1990.
“I have evidence here of the wrongdoing, and I’m determined to see this through,” Heylings said. He advised dramatically increasing the concentration of PP796 to lower fatalities—but the formula remains unchanged since the 1970s. Heylings alerted the FAO in 2018, but the FAO has gone so far as to adopt this concentration of PP796 as the global specification standard for all paraquat-based weedkillers.
“I just want the next child that accidentally takes a sip of paraquat weedkiller to have a fighting chance of survival,” he said.
Three years later, FAO says it is reviewing the paraquat specs—leaving many to suspect a conflict of interest with Croplife International.
Source: PAN Europe
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights October 2022