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EU regulations on pesticides: the path of poorer countries to hunger and disease

On 9th October, a huge crowd (160) of senior scientists from around the world released a petition against proposed EU pesticide regulations. Scientists are doing this because they believe it will shrink the global insecticide markets, leaving millions of people in poor countries at an increased risk of malaria (and other insect-borne diseases). If current EU regulations are enacted, as seems likely, the market and supply of effective insecticides would shrink, resulting in price rises for public health insecticides. The production of certain insecticides, such as those used in malaria control, may well cease altogether.

According to Professor Donald Roberts, a medical entomologist with decades of experience, the proposed new regulations set a dangerous precedent for the regulation of chemicals around the world. "It seems that EU regulators have no idea about the real risks to health and development to which most people in developing countries are exposed."

Some malarial countries have halted the use of the still-contentious DDT (a highly effective disease control insecticide banned in the EU) because they fear that even the tiniest of residues on export produce would result in rejection of entire shipments. Most of us only know of DDT as “bad”, having watched the daily news channels, but the use of DDT is complex – however, it remains one control of malaria. As such, it is the poorer people in the developing world who pay the price for EU regulations.

Since the European Union’s new regulations could remove up to 85% of chemicals currently used in farming, this will be of concern to the 75 million people suffering from hunger in the world. Importantly, people in Africa need insecticides to defend themselves against vector-borne diseases such as malaria, which were eradicated in European Union states decades ago.

Talking yesterday of their concerns in a meeting in Covent Garden, London, were Emeritus Professor of Pathology at Queen Mary College, London, Professor Sir Colin Berry along with Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria. I was amazed that even they and other eminent scientists – and everyone else in the room – felt that there was nothing they could do. Some had tried desperately hard to halt or amend the revisions and original proposals at the European Parliament but without any success. It seems likely the legislation will go through.

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Can you point us to where we can find the proposed regulations? I'd sure like to know what I'm protesting against, at least by the right citation.

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ABOUT BILL CASH MP

Bill Cash has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Stone since 1997 and an MP since 1984.

He is currently the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee and the founder member of the European Foundation...

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