Rabat – A recent investigation by Unearthed and Public Eye revealed that Morocco is one of the top destinations for European countries exporting toxic pesticides that are banned in the EU.
The investigation revealed that the UK and EU states including Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Belgium exported more than 81,000 tonnes of hazardous pesticides to 85 countries in 2018. The UK accounted for nearly 40% of total exports.
More than three-quarters of the destination countries were low- and middle-income countries.
Brazil, Ukraine, Morocco, Mexico, and South Africa were among the top 10 importers of banned pesticides from the UK and EU.
The remaining one-quarter of destination countries include richer nations such as the US, where pesticide regulations are relatively lax.
According to the report, the banned pesticides shipped to countries such as Morocco are banned in the EU due to threats of reproductive failure and endocrine disruption or cancer in humans. Environmental effects include groundwater contamination and the poisoning of fish, birds, mammals, and bees.
The pesticides are banned in the EU to protect the environment and human health.
However, European chemical companies such as Bayer and Syngenta benefit from legal loopholes that allow them to produce banned pesticides and export these hazardous products abroad.
The report states that the exporters of these banned products justified the practice by saying that the importing countries are sovereign states and have different pesticide laws, climates, and needs.
Activists slam this justification as a double standard: “If a pesticide is banned for causing cancer in the EU it will cause the same problems in Brazilian people,” said Alan Tygel, a spokesperson for a Brazilian group of social movements and NGOs.
The majority of pesticides exported from the UK contained paraquat, a weedkiller so toxic that one sip of it can be fatal. Paraquat is commonly used in suicide attempts in poorer countries.
Unearthed published the full findings of the investigation on September 9 after dozens of UN human rights experts issued a statement over the summer calling for an end to the “deplorable” practice of exporting toxic pesticides to poor countries without “the capacity to control the risks.”
Baskut Tuncak, a UN special rapporteur on toxics, argued that EU loopholes that allow for the sale of banned pesticides abroad externalize the dangers of these products to “communities of African descent and other people of color.”