U.S. Exports of Banned, Unregistered Pesticides Increase
May 10, 1993
Exports of banned and hazardous pesticides from U.S. ports rose by
12% in 1991 compared to 1990 figures, according to U.S. government
records analyzed by the Foundation for Advancements in Science and
Education (FASE) in the recently released study "Exporting Banned and
Hazardous Pesticide, 1991 Statistics." Pesticides whose use is
illegal in the U.S. were exported from U.S. ports at a rate of 15 tons
per day in 1991. This figure includes more than 96 tons of the
insecticide DDT, banned for more than 20 years in the U.S.
The report's findings include:
-- 5.7 million pounds of pesticides that have never had a U.S.
registration were exported in 1991, an increase of approximately 19%
over 1990 totals.
-- At least 6.6 million pounds of the severely restricted pesticides
chlordane, heptachlor, and carbofuran were shipped from U.S. ports the
same year, at a rate of 9 tons a day. ("Severely restricted" pesticides
are defined as pesticides for which most registered uses have been
prohibited by government regulatory action, but for which certain
specific registered use or uses remain authorized.)
-- FASE researchers also identified shipments of an additional 41
million pounds of pesticides considered so hazardous that only
government-certified specialists are allowed to use them, equivalent
to an export rate of nearly 5,000 pounds per hour throughout the year.
This is the organization's second annual review of U.S. pesticide
exports. The FASE studies are based on analysis of U.S. Customs
shipping records, the only public source of data on pesticide exports.
As in 1990, the investigators found disturbing gaps in the records; for
example, the names of more than 74% of the 477 million pounds of
pesticides exported in 1991 were not recorded. Given the extent of
the missing data, it is possible that the volume of traffic in
hazardous pesticides may be even greater than Customs records
indicate. If the pesticides named in shipping records provide an
accurate cross-section of those whose names are withheld, for
example, the actual volume could be four times the amount identified
by the shipping documents.
FASE Project Director Carl Smith notes that the majority of these
banned and hazardous pesticides were shipped to developing
countries, where unsafe storage and application practices are
common. According to the British Journal of Industrial Medicine,
although industrialized countries account for 80% of world
agricultural chemical use, more than 99% of all deaths from pesticide
poisoning occur in developing countries. "This isn't just exporting
chemicals. This is trafficking poisons," says Carl Smith. "Any trade
in pesticides considered unsafe for Americans is unacceptable, and
these rates are disgraceful. American companies are knowingly
shipping dangerous products to regions where they will not be safely
Contact/source: Carl Smith, Project Director; FASE, 4801 Wilshire
Blvd. Suite 215, Los Angeles, CA 90010, USA; phone (213) 937-9911;
fax (213) 937-7440.
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