Open letter: Stop export of Paraquat produced by Syngenta and others in China!

to Mr. Han Chang-fu, Minister of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China

Honourable Mr. Han Chang-fu, Minister of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China,

We welcome the suggestion of the Agricultural Ministry of China on 9 May 2016 to re-classify the toxicity of the pesticide Paraquat from “medium toxic” to “extremely toxic” as well as the decisions taken by your ministry to ban the use of all Paraquat formulations in China. Further, we appreciate that the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals (ICAMA) correctly stated that Paraquat has "no specific antidote, that accidental application is dangerous, and that illness duration is long and painful, and could be life-threatening".

However, we are strongly concerned that the Agriculture Ministry of China on April 24 2012,2 and again on May 9 2016,1 officially allows production of Paraquat for export to be used in other parts of the world, harming the health of agricultural workers, farmers and the environment in these countries.
Syngenta is a main producer of some of the most toxic pesticides globally, including Paraquat. ChemChina represents the largest portion of the Chinese agrochemical industry, which already exports massive amounts of toxic agrochemicals, including Paraquat, to the world market.

After learning that the Chinese government announced that the use of Paraquat will be banned in China, Davor Pisk, Chief Operating Officer of Syngenta, expressed to the media in 2009: "Regarding the issue of Paraquat, we do not consider the policy of the Chinese government appropriate, but we will respect the discussions we had, and fully implement the decision". Instead, Syngenta announced in 2015 that its Nantong plant in China was increasing Paraquat production capacity for export from 6,000 tons to 10,000 tons.

We are concerned that if ChemChina successfully merges with Syngenta, this can further consolidate the harm to global mankind caused by China's export of the most toxic agrochemicals, including export of Paraquat.
The Agricultural Ministry of China invites the Paraquat producers in China to comment on the above-mentioned suggestions. However, farmers, farm workers or scientists, being the most important stakeholder with regard to the use of paraquat and its safety and health issues, are not invited for comments. It seems rather obvious that Syngenta and other producers of Paraquat in China will oppose the re-classification of Paraquat.

This decision should be discussed publicly and widely, as a final decision on the classification of Paraquat in the People’s Republic of China might affect the decisions regarding the merger of Syngenta with ChemChina.

Most importantly, we are very concerned that despite all these acknowledgements of Paraquat’s toxicity, the production in China for the export to other countries is not considered for a ban. This is potentially harming the people of other nations and is a crime against humanity. China’s decisions in this matter have a huge global importance.

We therefore urge you to reconsider your decision in that matter and to work towards complete banning the production of Paraquat and other extremely toxic pesticides and to review the intention of ChemChina to acquire Syngenta for the sake of the health of the people and the environment in China as well as around the world.

Yours sincerely,

The undersigning organisations and people
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Signees: Open letter to Chinese Agricultural Ministry
Alternative Left Bern, Switzerland
Biodiversidad en América Latin, Latin America
BIOS, Argentina
Blueridge Institute, Switzerland
Bread for all, Switzerland
Coalition against BAYER-Dangers, Germany
ENSSER (European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility), Europe
ETC Group, Canada
European Civic Forum, Switzerland
GE Free NZ in Food and Environment, New Zealand
Grain, Global
Grupo Semillas, Colombia
IPEN a toxics-free future, Argentina
Longo Maï, Switzerland
Moms Across America, USA
MultiWatch, Switzerland
NAGS (National Association for Genetic Safety), Russia
OFRANEH GARIFUNA, Organizacion Fraternal Negra Hondureña, Honduras
Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific
Pesticide Action Network, Europe
Public Eye on Science, Switzerland
Pro Natura, Switzerland
Red de Coordinación en Biodiversidad, Costa Rica
Red Nacional De Accion Ecologista, Argentina
Solifonds, Switzerland
Swissaid, Switzerland

Albrecht Christoph, Switzerland
Baldinger Fritz, Switzerland
Bernard Meijfroidt, Belgium
Bleakley Claire, New Zealand
Buchwalder Florian, Switzerland
Bujàn Silvana, Argentina
Dalhuisen Tjerk, ASEED Europe, Netherlands
Egli Martin, Switzerland
Ernst Peter, Switzerland
Fritschi Jolanda, Switzerland
Gähler Ueli, Switzerland
Gessler Peter, Switzerland
Girard Odile, France
Grigore Raluca, USA
Gurtner Bruno, Switzerland
Klein Rachel, Switzerland
Kramarenko Konstantin, Russia
Langmeier Daniel, Switzerland
Lebrecht Tamara, Switzerland
Lutz Sohal Ulrike, Switzerland
McNulty Jim, Switzerland
Mettauer Reto, Switzerland
Meyer Jürg, Switzerland
Miranda Miriam, Honduras
Mortier Brigitte, France
Niggli Peter, Switzerland
Novoselova Nadezhda, Russia
Pehrke Jan, Germany
Picado Henry, Costa Rica
Planchenault Denis Dr, Switzerland
Rabello Roberto Jorge, Argentina
Rocio Damiano, Argentina
Rodriguez-Cervantes Silvia, Costa Rica
Rüegg Ch., Switzerland
Rüegg Christoph, Switzerland
Salzgeber Florine, Switzerland
Saunders Peter, Professor, UK
Schenker Dominik, Switzerland
Schmutz Hans-Peter, Switzerland
Seneff Stephanie, Senior Research Scientist, USA
Sharoykina Elena, Russia
Sirinathsinghji Eva, Independent Biosafety Researcher, UK
Soto Hugo, Costa Rica “Citizen of a country flooded with Paraquat”
Stolz Albert, Switzerland
Tschannen Jan, Switzerland
Tschirren Stephan, Switzerland
Urech Ursula, Switzerland
Walter Ursula, Switzerland
Weber Helga, Germany
Wursthorn Markus A., Germany
Zollinger Marianne, Switzerland
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