A visual with a black background with a transparent shipment boat on the right corner and green toxic bubbles on the foreground. The text reads in white: "DEADLY EXPORTS". On the top left corner there is CEO's logo in white


New research reveals the arguments used by the chemical industry to keep exporting EU-banned chemicals

In 2020, the European Commission pledged to address one of the most unethical trading practices in the EU: the export of banned pesticides to third countries. These substances are so dangerous that their use within the EU is forbidden. However, despite this original commitment, no concrete proposal has been put forward, and the EU is still exporting large quantities of these hazardous substances to countries around the world, with a focus on South America and the Global South every year.

Deadly Exports, a new report by Corporate Europe Observatory explored industry arguments against an EU export ban.

The research highlights six key arguments commonly used by lobbyists and industry:

  1. Economic Impacts: Despite industry claims of significant economic losses and job cuts from an export ban, studies reveal that the actual impact on jobs and profits would be minimal. Banned pesticides represent only a fraction of total exports, suggesting overstated concerns.
  2. Outsourcing: While the industry argues that banning exports will simply relocate production to other countries, outsourcing is a strategic decision made by multinational companies rather than an inevitable consequence of a ban.
  3. Global South Agriculture: Contrary to industry assertions, there is no evidence that export bans on pesticides harm agricultural producers in third countries. In fact, a model of agriculture with low to no usage of pesticides is not only possible but desirable in the short term. The notion that pesticides are indispensable  to produce enough food is a key false argument used by the pesticide industry worldwide.
  4. WTO rules Compliance: Despite concerns about compatibility with WTO rules, legal opinions indicate that an export ban could align with WTO regulations, particularly within exceptions related to public health and nature conservation objectives.
  5. Global vs. EU Approach: The industry advocates for a global approach through for example the reformed Rotterdam Convention. However, the convention's inefficacy and industry influence undermine the feasibility of this  suggestion and is primarily a distraction from new EU regulation.
  6. Counterfeiting Risks: Industry warnings of increased illegal pesticide use post-ban overlook existing issues of illegal pesticide usage and counterfeiting within the EU. Advocates instead emphasize the need for comprehensive regulatory measures to address these concerns effectively.

João Camargo, CEO researcher and campaigner, says: 

“The toxic trade of banned chemical products is hard to compare in its iniquity. 

EU companies like Bayer, BASF and others are sending out products which have already been forbidden here as they actively endanger people’s health and contaminate water, soils and destroy biodiversity. Yet they keep on taking advantage of the loopholes and free trade regimes to send these deadly products elsewhere, where they have the same or worse impacts on communities and the environment.” 

Hans Van Scharen, CEO researcher and campaigner also refers that: “As long as these companies and their lobbyists have privileged access to governments and EU institutions, they will keep on pushing their profit over health and preserving biodiversity. Their arguments are laughable, yet the corporate-capture of EU policy making, maintains Europe’s complicity with this deadly trade. We need toxic-free politics to begin mending the harm done all around the world.”


For media inquiries, please contact:

João Camargo, Corporate Europe Observatory Researcher and Campaigner


+351 963367363

Hans van Scharen, Corporate Europe Observatory Researcher and Campaigner


+32 484729776


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