COVID-19 isn’t the only global health crisis occurring right now. There is another crisis, propagated by a global industry, that is entirely man made.
The world’s five largest agrochemical companies: Bayer, BASF, Sygenta, Corteva and FMC – members of Croplife International lobby group – are making huge profits by selling chemicals that pose a serious risk to human health.
Research has shown links to increased cancer, liver disease, DNA damage, reproductive failure, endocrine disruption and also to the environment like groundwater contamination, microbiome disruption, poisoning of birds, mammals, fish and bees.
The main markets for these dangerous chemicals are low and middle-income countries, like Brazil and India. Although in European markets some of these products have already been banned, European companies can still produce and sell them to regions with lesser regulations.
Why are these companies allowed to sell such harmful chemicals already banned in the EU to countries that are known to have weaker regulations?
Highly Hazardous Pesticides
“Even though the climate is different, our bodies are made from the same matter”, explains spokesperson for the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life, an umbrella of social movements and NGOs, Alan Tygel. “Substances that are dangerous for Europeans, are also dangerous for Brazilians, Indians, Argentinians, and so on”.
The ammonia process, which uses nitrogen from the atmosphere as its key ingredient, was invented by German chemist Fritz Haber to help farmers around the world significantly improve their profitability. There is a darker side to his work as one of the most effective insecticides Harber helped to develop was Zyklon B, used by the Nazis to murder more than a million people, even including members of his own family.
Fossil fuels and greenhouse gases are great contributors to climate change, but Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), which affect the health of large parts of the population and our environment, have gone largely unrecognised.
According to the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, HHPs are described as “pesticides that are acknowledged to present particularly high levels of acute or chronic hazards to health or the environment according to internationally accepted classification systems”.
An investigation by Unearthed and Public Eye found that CropLife companies made approximately 27% of sales income from HHPs in high-income countries compared to 45% to low to mid-income countries.