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U.N. Deems Export of Banned Pesticides Immoral
U.S. Newswire
17 Dec 16:09

U.N. Human Rights Investigator Deems U.S. Export Of Banned
Pesticides 'Immoral'
To: National Desk, Environmental Reporter
Contact: Erika Rosenthal or Martin Wagner, 415-627-6700
both for Earthjustice

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In a meeting with
non-governmental human rights and environmental organizations in
San Francisco last week, U.N. Special Rapporteur Fatma Zora
Ouhachi-Vesely had harsh words for the United States' practice
of exporting chemicals, pesticides, and waste banned
domestically to developing nations.

"Just because something is not illegal, it may still be
immoral. Allowing the export of products recognized to be
harmful is immoral," said Vesely as she gathered information
about U.S. toxic export practices.

As Special Rapporteur to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights
(Geneva), Vesely was in the United States on a fact-finding
mission during which she met with government officials and
non-governmental organizations. The mandate of the Special
Rapporteur on Toxics addresses traffic in toxic and dangerous
products and wastes and its impact on human rights. Vesely was
in the United States to examine current issues and trends in the
international transfer of materials and to learn about threats
to human rights in the United States and abroad.

The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental
Health noted that between 1996 and 2000, the United States
exported nearly 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides that have been
identified as known or suspected carcinogens, an average rate of
almost 16 tons per hour. Most of these exports are sent to the
developing world and used in agriculture. According to the
International Labor Organization, 65 to 90 percent of the
children estimated to be working in Africa (80 million), Asia
(152 million) and Latin America (17 million) are working in
agriculture. These children are often continuously exposed to
pesticides in the fields, from their water, through their
clothing, and at their homes.

Vesely explained why the export of pesticides banned in the
United States creates human rights issues. "Even if something is
marked 'poison' it tends to be shipped in large amounts, then
transferred to smaller containers without proper labeling for
local sale and use. And the people actually using the products
often cannot read anyway," she explained.

During her visit to the United States Vesely also met with
government officials. "US officials told me that pesticides
banned in the United States but exported cannot be regulated if
there is a demand overseas, because of free-trade agreements."
But NGOs presented proof that the demand from developing
countries stems from promotional campaigns by the U.S. companies
that profit from these sales. "Developing countries do not have
the medical or regulatory capacity to address the negative
effects of these chemicals on their population. That is what
makes this is an immoral practice," explained Vesely.

Vesely also explained that in an interconnected world
economy, pesticides banned in the United States can find their
way back into the United States via food imports. Vesely
explained, "So banning the export of dangerous pesticides can
protect Americans as well."

For more information on U.S. export of toxics contact:
-- Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner, Earthjustice,
International Program, 415-627-6700,
[email protected], [email protected]
-- Monica Moore, Pesticide Action Network North America,
415-981-1771 ext.328, [email protected],
-- Doug Murray, Expert on pesticide hazard reduction,
Colorado State University, 1-970-491-6492,
[email protected]

-- For further information on the Rapporteur on Toxics,
contact the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights


/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
12/17 16:09

Copyright 2001, U.S. Newswire


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