CropLife International's Dr. Bernhard Johnen, Director of International Regulatory Policy, issued the following statement in response to the release of the UNEP Global Chemicals Outlook:
"CropLife International regrets that UNEP has seriously misrepresented the role and safety of crop protection products in their recently released report Global Chemicals Outlook. The analysis in the report is not robust.
"Due to the limited data available and the significant variability on reporting pesticide incidents in sub-Saharan Africa, assumptions or generalizations that the report makes must be seriously questioned. It is regrettable that the data has been reported in the Global Chemicals Outlook without a public reference and given such significant profile.
"The Global Chemicals Outlook references an unpublished Cost of Inaction Report 2012, which presumably attempts to estimate the health costs from pesticides in sub-Saharan Africa. As the report has not been published or made publicly available it is very difficult to determine if the analysis and calculations have been vetted through scientific rigour.
"The Global Chemicals Outlook does not acknowledge the significant benefits of pesticides in supplying an abundant food supply, reducing manual labour and improving the livelihoods of small-holder farmers. The report does not consider the potential implications from not using pesticides, such as economic and human health risks associated with practising alternative crop protection and weeding techniques.
"The crop protection industry takes health issues very seriously and responsible use training is one of our highest priorities. CropLife International works in partnership with numerous NGO's and governments to encourage worldwide adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles. Between 2005 and 2011 CropLife International funded crop protection programmes that directly trained almost 2 million pesticide users, and reached many millions more through outreach campaigns.
"Pesticides are rigorously tested for their possible effects on humans, as well as on animals and the environment. In addition to undergoing stringent testing by industry, pesticides are also highly regulated by national and international authorities. Health and environmental agencies regulate pesticide products and regularly review and monitor the use of pesticides for potential health effects.
"The Global Chemicals Outlook concludes with 26 general and specific recommendations on chemical management. CropLife International welcomes UNEP to conduct further consultation and discussion on these recommendations with the pesticide industry.
For more information or to request an interview with Dr. Johnen, please contact Robert Hunter, director of communications, crop protection at Robert.Hunter@croplife.org or +32 2 541 1669.