On 21 February, Unearthed published a report saying that the UK exported thousands of tonnes of banned pesticides in 2020, with shipments including a wider range of toxic substances than ever previously revealed.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which regulates UK exports of prohibited chemicals, has confirmed that in that year British exporters shipped pesticide products overseas containing 12,240 tonnes of chemicals banned from use in this country’s own fields.  These exports are legal because loopholes in UK law allow companies to continue producing pesticides for export long after they have been prohibited from domestic use in order to protect human health or the environment. The EU is drafting proposals for a EU-wide ban on the manufacture for export of chemicals that are banned in the EU.  Under UK and EU regulations, any company that wants to export a banned chemical need to produce an “export notification” detailing the reasons the product is banned, its intended uses, and the amount the company intends to export. This document must be sent to authorities in the importing country before the export can be shipped. 80% of destinations were low- or middle-income countries such as Brazil, Colombia and India, where experts say hazardous pesticide use poses the greatest risks.  The bulk of the notified exports were shipments of paraquat by the agrochemical giant Syngenta. The company still manufactures the weedkiller at its factory in Huddersfield although its use has been banned in the UK.  The main intended destination for Syngenta’s paraquat exports was the US, where the company is currently facing legal action from farmers who developed Parkinson’s disease.

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Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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