User Bar First

This is a debugging block

User Bar Second

This is a debugging block

Branding

This is a debugging block

Header First

This is a debugging block

Header Second

This is a debugging block

Preface First

This is a debugging block

Preface Second

This is a debugging block

Preface Third

This is a debugging block

Content

This is a debugging block

Call for the phase out of paraquat and other highly hazardous pesticides: Will RSPO embrace sustainability or profitability?
Press Release by PAN Asia Pacific and Tenaganita
Friday, January 25, 2013 - 16:15

This week, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil undertakes its final meeting to decide on the proposed draft revisions for its Principles and Criteria. Facing mounting and serious credibility questions over its efforts to enforce sustainability, it is time for RSPO to make a definite stand to eliminate paraquat and end the global double standard on human harms.

Penang, Malaysia - The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is on the verge of revealing its true identity as it revises its Principles and Criteria. RSPO has been facing valid and pressing concerns or doubts over its commitment to protect both people and planet. The use of pesticides, especially paraquat in oil palm plantations, and the harms they have caused have been well documented. Paraquat remains among the most acutely toxic weed-killers and occupational hazards especially on women and children could not be avoided yet industry and oil palm plantations continue to peddle the illusion that safe use is possible.

Banned in many countries including the European Union and Switzerland, the home base of paraquat's original manufacturer, some paraquat formulations are now recommended for listing in the Rotterdam Convention. A known neurotoxicant, studies have also confirmed it as contributing risk factor for Parkinson's disease which takes decades to manifest. Meanwhile, workers continue to face lifelong health problems such as skin diseases, blindness, and respiratory problems among others and all in the name of more profits. According to Tenaganita Executive Director Irene Fernandez whose efforts have helped expose poisoning among plantation workers, "the continued use of paraquat in developing countries constitutes a global standard which goes against the fundamental principles of sustainability".

Other standard setting groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council, UTZ for coffee certification, the Rainforest Alliance and others have phased out paraquat. Yet, as it stands, RSPO's Principles and Criteria (P&C) has no time-bound and definite calls to eliminate paraquat and other highly hazardous pesticides. Use of these chemicals continues as long as they are "justified". The elimination of paraquat and protection of worker's health rights is an ethical and moral obligation under international law to which all members of RSPO - growers, palm oil processers, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, bankers/investors, and social and environmental NGOs - should demand. "RSPO commitments towards sustainability and apparent inability to enforce it are highly in doubt. Communities and people find it harder everyday to expect social justice from the RSPO system", added Ms Fernandez.

This week the Task Force on the P&C Review Process meets for the last time before finalizing a draft P&C text that will be voted on by RSPO's General Assembly later this year. It is about time that they take the high road and a definite stand for sustainability and to eliminate paraquat and other highly hazardous pesticides. Any less could only erode the already sagging credibility of the RSPO name.

Already confronted with serious questions on its resolve on concerns over land grabbing, RSPO will have to answer to the people, its consumers and the future generations for the decisions it takes today.

Contact:

Irene Fernandez
Exceutive Director
Tenaganita
Email: irene.f@tenaganita.net
Tel: +60 3 7770 3691/3671

Sarojeni Rengam
Exceutive Director
PAN Asia and the PacificEmail: panap@panap.net
Tel: +604-657 0271

_____________________________________________

Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific
P.O. Box 1170, 10850 Penang
Malaysia
Tel: +604-6570271 or +604-6560381 | Fax: +604-6583960
E-mail: panap@panap.net
Website: www.panap.net
Like us on: http://www.facebook.com/panasiapacific

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is a global network working to eliminate the human and environmental harm caused by pesticides and to promote biodiversity based ecological agriculture. PAN Asia and the Pacific, one of PAN's regional centres, is effectively advancing food sovereignty, gender justice and environmental sustainability. We are committed to support the struggles of rural women, agricultural workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and other small food producers.

Postscript First

This is a debugging block

Postscript Second

This is a debugging block

Postscript Third

This is a debugging block