New EU Pesticide Regulations Will Increase Risk Of Malaria And Other Insect-Borne Diseases

Africa Fighting Malaria | 10 Oct 2008
Medical News Today
Today 160 senior scientists from around the world release a petition against proposed EU pesticide regulations which they believe would shrink the global insecticide markets, leaving millions of people in poor countries at an increased risk of malaria and other insect-borne diseases.

The letter of petition is signed by eminent scientists such as Sir David King, former Senior Scientific Advisor to the UK Government, and Sir Richard Feachem, former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

It demands that the EU measure the likely impacts of the regulation, and revise the proposals.

If the current regulations were to be enacted, the market and supply of effective insecticides would shrink, resulting in price hikes for public health insecticides. The production of certain insecticides, such as those used in malaria control, could cease altogether as production would be financially unviable for the smaller public health market.

According to Professor Donald Roberts, a medical entomologist with decades of experience, the proposed new regulations set a dangerous precedent for the regulation of chemicals around the world. "These regulations betray a worrying lack of concern about the impacts of EU regulations beyond Europe," says Roberts. "It seems that EU regulators have no idea about the real risks to health and development to which most people in developing countries are exposed. They not only ignore real-world risks of chemical use but also ignore the risks of NOT using insecticides to protect crops and human health."

The new EU proposals will also drive through changes to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) (according to Regulation EC 396/2005). New, more stringent MRLs could limit the use of insecticides in vector control out of fear that even the smallest residues will result in the rejection of export produce. Some malarial countries have halted the use of DDT (a highly effective disease control insecticide banned in the EU) out of fears that residues on export produce would result in rejection of entire shipments. Such actions have harmed malaria control forcing poor people to pay a high price for existing EU regulations.

Richard Tren, Director of Africa Fighting Malaria, a health advocacy group based in South Africa and Washington, DC said "The unintended consequences of regulations and anti-insecticide activism has already severely limited the range of insecticides available for public health programs and increased the costs of disease control."

The letter of petition is available to download here.