Kelly Campbell, 415-981-6205 ext 350
U.S. Blocks Progress on North America Phase Out of Toxic Pesticide at Tri-National Meeting
Officials Ignore Public Health, Indigenous and Environmental Groups Recommending Elimination of Lindane
MONTREAL, CANADA—The U.S. representatives to a tri-national taskforce meeting last week in Montreal announced plans to allow continued use of lindane in the U.S, despite Canada’s plans to eliminate agricultural uses by the end of 2004 and Mexico’s stated goal of a full phase out of agricultural, veterinary and pharmaceutical uses of the pesticide. The U.S. position disregards the objections of public health, indigenous and environmental groups who are calling for elimination of the pesticide lindane, a neurotoxic chemical that has already been banned in 17 countries. Representatives from the three countries met in Montreal, Canada through September 28-30 to draft a North American Regional Action Plan for lindane through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America established by NAFTA.
“The U.S. position allowing continued use of lindane is downright shameful,” said Pam Miller, the official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) representative on the task force and Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics who was in the meeting last week. “The U.S. should take a lead role in getting rid of this old and dangerous chemical, not lag behind the rest of the world.”
Fifty-eight public health, indigenous and environmental organizations recently sent a joint letter to U.S. agency officials and task force members urging elimination of lindane. More than 400 health care professionals in the U.S. sent a similar letter. Environmental NGOs have also submitted a request to Bayer CropScience to voluntarily withdraw lindane products from the North American market. Bayer recently acquired Gustafson LLC, the primary distributor in the U.S. of lindane seed treatment products.
Lindane is also a current target of several international treaties. For example, it is included the "Prior Informed Consent" list of the Rotterdam Convention, and it will likely be one of the top candidates considered for addition to the list of chemicals targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
“This old, bioaccumulative pesticide damages human nervous and immune systems and is linked to cancer,” said Kristin Schafer,