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Bayer and Syngenta exposed thousands of Indian farmers to highly hazardous pesticides

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Transnational chemical corporations Bayer and Syngenta allegedly sold highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) to thousands of farmers in India failing to ensure that they are adequately informed about the dangers associated to the pesticides or the necessary safety measures.

Bayer and Syngenta pesticides endanger tens of thousands in Punjab (India)

ECCHR demands investigations by FAO and WHO

“Foreign companies come with their pesticides and say they will double production. They do not think about the harms to human beings in the country,” a farmer reported when being interviewed as part of a survey carried out on the use of pesticides in Punjab (India) in March 2015. The farmer’s testimony is part of a video on possible legal action on highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). The interview is also included in a Monitoring Report submitted by ECCHR on 6 October 2015 to the Panel of Experts on Pesticides Management at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations which is currently meeting in Beijing (China). The report is supported by Bread for the World (Germany), the Berne Declaration(Switzerland), the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (Malaysia) andKheti Virasat Mission, an organic farming movement based in Punjab (India).

The report is based on numerous accounts from Punjabi farmers and documents how Bayer and Syngenta are involved in the sale of highly hazardous pesticides but fail to adequately inform the farmers about the dangers of the pesticides or the necessary safety measures. In the opinion of the five organizations from Europe and Asia, the report shows that the business practices of these transnational chemicals giants violate the FAO Code of Conduct.

Video: “Tackling the Accountability Gap“ – Legal tools to hold pesticides companies accountable

Report on Bayer and Syngenta submitted to the United Nation´s Panel of Experts on Pesticide Management

ECCHR and its partner organizations are calling on Bayer and Syngenta to immediately halt the sale of HHPs including Confidor and Nativo (Bayer) as well as Gramoxone and Matador (Syngenta) in India. The FAO Panel of Experts is also called on to conduct comprehensive and independent investigations into the accusations against Bayer.
 
There is also an urgent need for a response from the German and Swiss governments. With regard to companies like Bayer and Syngenta, which are based in Germany and Switzerland respectively, these governments have an extraterritorial human rights obligation to ensure that the firms respect human rights in the course of their business activities abroad.
 
The International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management established by the FAO in 1985 is aimed at managing the global risks associated with pesticide use. The current version of the Code of Conduct (2013), officially supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses the shared responsibility of governments and the pesticides industry in managing the risks associated with pesticide use wherever they are sold. Bayer and Syngenta have pledged to adhere to the Code.
 
The Monitoring Report addresses two main areas of claimed non-adherence to the Code of Conduct. The first concerns adequate labeling whereas the second concerns the provision of protective clothing for users and the training of company representatives. In addition, the Report addresses the question of whether the two companies are failing to monitor their business practices as well as the adverse impacts of pesticide use in the area studied.

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