HEAL’s action on pesticides

Pesticides that are known to cause cancer must be phased out
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The EU pesticides law has banned certain substances and recommended reductions in the use of pesticides. However, dangerous chemicals will only gradually disappear from the market, and governments are only very slowly developing action plans for the sustainable use of pesticides which need to be adopted by 2012.

The EU’s updated pesticides law changes which kinds of pesticides can be sold on the market. Pesticides that are known to cause cancer, damage the DNA, are toxic to our reproductive system or harm the hormone system (the so-called endocrine disruptors) must be phased out.

The new law requires countries to produce National Action Plans (NAPs) to create more sustainable farming practices and to reduce pesticide dependency in parks, school and hospital grounds, or close to residential areas.

Previous News on our policy work

Screening of Death is in the Fields raises awareness of harm to farmers from pesticides
On 27 March, a fully packed audience watched the first-ever screening of the documentary in Brussels and heard representatives of the French phytovictims association explain how pesticides have affected their lives. Read more…

Pesticide Action Week proves another great success
The 9th edition of Pesticide Action Week has been a great success, with a significant increase of participating countries and activities this year. Several HEAL members actively took part. Read more...

Pesticides Action Week – save the date!
During the 9th edition of Pesticide Action Week, HEAL and its members will be raising awareness about the impacts of pesticides on our health and the environment through a number of events. Read more…

First time screening of ‘La Mort est dans le Pré’ in Brussels
On the occasion of Pesticide Action Week, HEAL brings together pesticide victims and EU policy makers to discuss how to prevent impacts of pesticides on our health. On 27 March, HEAL co-hosts a screening of the French documentary La Mort est dans le pré (Death is in the Meadow)at the European Parliament with MEP Hiltrud Breyer. Read more…

New French law will ban non-agricultural use of pesticides from 2020
The French parliament has adopted a law which prohibits the private or public use of pesticides from 2020 in green areas, forests or public space. Read more…

Law case on access to information on environmental pesticide-testing
In a recent case between HEAL member PAN-Europe, Greenpeace Nederland and the EU Commission, the General Court ruled that the EU Commission was required to disclose environmental pesticide-testing information to NGOs. Read more…

French agricultural engineering students learn about HEAL’s work
Last month, HEAL was invited to present its work to a group of final year agricultural engineering students from Rennes, France. The students were particularly interested in the pesticides and chemicals work by HEAL and the relationship with the EU Institutions. Read more…

PAN Europe at joint symposium: ’Yes we can feed Europe using less pesticides’
On 5 December HEAL member Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN-E) co-hosted a joint symposium in the European Parliament to discuss the possibilities to feed Europe with less pesticides. Read more...

Join HEAL in wishing TEDX a happy 10th anniversary
TEDX founder Theo Colborn who has become the President Emeritus of TEDX, celebrated its 10th anniversary with Executive Director Carol Kwiatkowski this year. Clearly, the small team at TEDX continues to be an organisation that can “change the world”, as HEAL noted in its celebratory tribute. Read more...

Member states show little effort for cutting pesticide use for better health
EU member states have submitted national action plans to use pesticides more sustainably which show a variety of approaches, and seven countries are even running late. Read more…

What’s in your strawberries?
Testing of French and Spanish strawberries showed that 70% of fruits contained pesticides which are endocrine disruptors, and two samples even contained a banned pesticide. The results underline the need for an ambitious policy on endocrine disruptors. Read more...

Glyphosate found in our bodies across Europe
Traces of the most commonly used herbicide glyphosate have been found in humans across Europe. The findings of this first ever testing raise concerns about increasing levels of exposure to this weed killer. Read more...

New video to celebrate Pesticides Action Week 2013
As part of their activities during Pesticides Action Week (20 – 30 March), HEAL and Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN E) have launched a video clip to urge organisations to join their ‘EDC Free Campaign’. Read more...

French committee and charter on pesticide alternatives
A cross party committee of senators in France has launched a ’’Charter for alternatives to pesticides’’ (Charte du Comité des élus pour les alternatives des pesticides) to disseminate information on pesticides and promote alternatives. More than 100 elected officials – senators, members of Parliament and municipal councillors – have already joined. Read more...

Pesticide victims: French authorities asked to compensate farmer
For the first time, the French authorities have been asked to compensate a farmer because he developed a cancer associated with his exposure to chemical substances contained in pesticides. Read more...

Building a pesticide free future – How can you get involved in the Pesticide Action Week?
For several years HEAL has been a supporting partner of the Pesticide Action Week which takes place annually across the globe. From 20 – 30 March 2013, the 8th edition will have a special focus on endocrine disrupting pesticides, and will aim at showcasing the growing alternatives to pesticides use through discussions, workshops, information stands, exhibitions etc. In 2012, 750 events took place in France and in 21 countries. Read more about the event or register your event here.

EU Commission announces review of pesticide chlorpyrifos
Health and environment groups welcome the EU Commission’s announcement to review the approval of the pesticide chlorpyrifos after years of accumulated evidence of suggesting harmful effects to health. HEAL and its member, Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) urge the EU Health Commissioner to opt for a full ban in order to better protect children. Read more.

Study on GMOs strongly suggests need for reform
A French study reveals important shortcomings in our food safety system which could have adverse effects on human health. The study revealed that rats fed on genetically-modified maize and exposed to a common herbicide associated with maize production developed tumours faster and died earlier than rats fed on a standard diet. Given these new findings, testing methods of genetically-modified food should be reconsidered and similar studies should further investigate these results. Read more …

New scientific study reveals adverse effects of mixtures of pesticides
The term “cocktail effect” is commonly used to describe possible effects from being exposed to a mixture of chemical substances, for example, several different pesticides in food. HEAL member Générations Futures (GF) has facilitated a new study on impacts of pesticides mixtures on cells. The work builds on the Toxics Menu report on pesticides contamination daily children’s meals, which was launched by HEAL and GF in December 2010. Learn more …

Videos of presentations, workshops and testimonies of pesticides and health conference
In March HEAL member Generations Futures organized a high level conference in the French senate on pesticides and health entitled: ’Which ways of improvement are possible?’. Its aim was to bring the voice of health-affected groups to the debate. HEAL was one of the co-sponsors of the event. A compilation has been made of most of the presentations, workshops and studio interviews which took place at the two-day conference. Learn more …

HEAL speaks at French Senate on pesticides and health HEAL speaks at French Senate on pesticides and health
Lisette van Vliet, HEAL’s Toxics Policy Advisor addressed a well-attended congress on pesticides and health at the Palais du Luxembourg, Paris (Senate building) organised by Generations Futures on 23 March 2012. The presentation was entitled Pesticides and health: Which paths forward are possible? (« Pesticides et santé : Quelles voies d’amélioration possibles ? »). Learn more ...

Working with national Governments and local initiatives to reduce pesticide use - In 2008, HEAL launched the Sick of Pesticides] campaign - a Europe-wide initiative to raise awareness of the links between pesticides and cancer. The aim is to put pressure on governments to encourage them to set up an ambitious NAPs for Pesticide Reduction and to help people and public bodies to rapidly reduce their dependence on pesticides. We currently have projects running in France, Belgium Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom focusing on establishing pesticide-free public areas.

Calling the EU to ensure that the pesticide reduction laws are met – HEAL and our partners also work with EU decision makers to encourage faster, stronger implementation of pesticides policy. The deadline of national pesticide reduction laws is November 2012, and so far governments have been slow in starting discussions on the NAPs. HEAL calls on the EU, particularly on Commissioner John Dalli, responsible for Health and Consumers, to take a more pro-active role in protecting citizens from pesticide exposure and make pesticides reduction a priority in 2011.

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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