Exeter/Hamburg, 12 May, 2015 – A review of scientific literature shows clear evidence that exposure to certain pesticides, currently allowed in European fields, is associated with different forms of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and diseases of the newborn. This is the conclusion of a new report published today by Greenpeace, Pesticides and our Health – A Growing Concern [1]. The report is being published after the recent WHO decision to re-classify Glyphosate, the most widespread herbicide worldwide, as a probable human carcinogen, after this chemical has been in use for many decades. Greenpeace calls for an urgent phase-out of synthetic-chemical pesticides and a shift towards ecological farming.

Christiane Huxdorff, Greenpeace Ecological Farming Campaigner, said:

“It is shameful that those who produce our food suffer the most because of massive pesticide use on our fields. Farmers and their families carry the toxic burden of our failing system of industrial agriculture. This report clearly shows that pesticides can never be considered ‘safe’ and it demonstrates once more that we urgently need to move towards ecological farming – for healthy food and healthy farmers.”

The report Pesticides and our Health – A Growing Concern summarises the findings of current peer-reviewed studies investigating pesticides and their application or consumption, contributing to a growing number of health problems affecting farmers, greenhouse workers and their families. There is strong evidence that exposure to these chemicals is linked to a number of cancers. Some evidence suggests that certain pesticides (e.g. synthetic pyrethroids) can disrupt the immune and hormone systems and are a significant additional risk factor for particular chronic diseases like asthma. Pesticide exposure is also a significant additional risk factor in many chronic diseases and certain people have an increased risk to their harmful effects due to their genetic makeup. Pesticide exposure during pregnancy brings additional risks to a developing child as some of these chemicals directly pass to the fetus in the womb and the effect of this prenatal exposure is thought to carry through into childhood with birth defects and likely delayed cognitive development. Considering the diverse routes of exposure from chemicals in the home, food and environment, the health of small children are more at risk as they have higher exposure rates and their bodies metabolize slower. Pesticides that are toxic to the nervous system include organophosphate pesticides (OPPs) and some carbamate pesticides, pyrethroids and neonicotinoids. Even at low levels of exposure, some of these chemicals can induce long-lasting ill health. Therefore, there is a compelling case, and an urgent need to reduce human exposure to these hazardous chemicals.

In light of these scientific findings there are growing concerns about the widespread use of pesticides in Europe, and Greenpeace calls on the European Commission and policy makers across Europe to phase out the use of synthetic-chemical pesticides in agriculture. Priority should be given to banning pesticides that have carcinogenic properties, are mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMRs category I and II), and interfere with the hormone system (EDCs) as well as chemicals with neurotoxic properties.

“We urgently need a shift of public research towards ecological farming to support farmers in moving away from the current reliance on synthetic-chemicals. It is time to adopt biodiversity-based tools to control pests and enhance farmlands, ecosystems’ and our farmers’ health”, Huxdorff concludes.

Greenpeace launched an online platform to highlight the failures of industrial agriculture and invites people to counter the broken food system. Join the food movement through personal challenges.



[1] Allsop, M; Huxdorff, C; Johnston, P; Santillo, D; Thompson, K (2015) Pesticides and our Health – A Growing Concern, Greenpeace Research Laboratories

Please download the full report Pesticides and our Health – A Growing Concern here or mail to [email protected] for other related assets.


Christiane Huxdorff, Ecological Farming Campaigner, Greenpeace Germany, +49 171 6035529, [email protected]

Christine Gebeneter, EU Communications Coordinator Ecological Farming, Greenpeace Netherlands, +31 62 11 00 49, [email protected]