The EU’s nasty bite
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Last week, Bill Gates unleashed a swarm of mosquitoes on the assembled crowd at the TED conference. As intended, this gimmick generated a global "buzz" about malaria prevention. Unfortunately, new EU legislation may mean that real malarial mosquitoes continue to buzz for some time to come.
For several months, IPN has collaborated with various likeminded organizations and scientists to raise public awareness about the impact of new EU Regulations that prohibit production of certain chemicals used in the manufacture of pesticides. This legislation is essentially without merit: it is unlikely to be of any benefit to the environment or human health. Yet it will have some nasty negative consequences.
First and foremost, it is likely to reduce the number of insecticides available to control the vectors (such as mosquitoes) that transmit diseases such as malaria and dengue. It will also become more difficult and expensive to develop and market new pesticides, which are urgently needed because of the growing problem of resistance.
Moreover, the legislation will likely be used as a protectionist measure: poor countries that don’t apply similar prohibitions could be prevented from selling their agricultural products in the EU.
Working with Africa Fighting Malaria, in late 2008 IPN organized briefings in Brussels and London to draw attention to the issue. In January, the Campaign for Fighting Diseases, an IPN coalition which focuses on public health issues, published The EU's Nasty Bite. This study created many opportunities for discussion in the global media, including the BBC World Service, South African radio, Expansion (Spain), and a variety of African and European newspapers.
As expected, the legislation was passed by the Parliament – but it remains unclear which active substances will be banned.
Watch this space, and read more in the meantime:
- The EU’s Nasty Bite
- EU’s Pesticide Ban Raises Issues (BBC News Online)
- SA Scientists Oppose EU Pesticide Rules (Business Day, South Africa)
- EU Pesticide Ban Threatens Millions Around the World (Vancouver Sun, Canada)