EFFECT OF DDT ON FOOD EXPORTS TO THE EU
Published in the EU – Uganda News (December 2004)
While the European Union (EU) fully acknowledges the urgent need to control Malaria in Uganda, we are concerned about the impact the use of DDT might have on the country’s exports of food products to the EU.
Over 40% of Uganda’s exports are destined to the EU. Food products, including Fish, comprise a vast majority of this. Government, the private sector and the EU have invested heavily in building trade and development partnerships between Uganda and the EU. With the Everything – But – Arms (EBA) initiative and other national programmes, the EU is committed to supporting Uganda to benefit even more from the European market. Through the planned Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA’s) the EU foresees the harmonization of laws and regulations governing trade at the regional level to strength the partnership with the EU even further.
DDT is toxic, persistent and bio-accumulative in the tissues of living organisms including man. Studies indicate that 50% of DDT can remain in the soil for as long as 10 – 15 years after application. It has been detected in human breast milk, is acutely toxic to birds and highly toxic to fish. There is therefore no doubt that DDT contaminates the food chain.
Because of these effects, the use of DDT is covered by the Stockholm Convention on “Persistent Organic Pollutants” (POP), which Uganda ratified in July 2004. This Convention provides that the production and use of DDT should be restricted and that countries, which want to continue its production or use, should apply accompanying measures.
DDT is also listed in the Rotterdam Convention, which regulates the trade of dangerous chemicals and pesticides. The Convention requires exporters trading in these substances to obtain prior information consent of importers. Uganda is on the list of interim Prior Informed Consent (PIC).
DDT is banned for agricultural use in the EU. The EU has established Maximum Residue Levels (MRL’s) for DDT for both domestic and imported food and feedstuffs.
If Uganda is to use DDT for Malaria control, it is advisable to do so under strictly controlled circumstances. The country would also have to set up a parallel system to monitor foodstuffs for the presence of DDT. This would ensure that any contamination of foodstuffs is detected and corrective measures taken. However, these measures may not be sufficient to allay the fears of individual consumers of Uganda’s food products in the EU.
The EU would therefore urge Government to consider the wider implications of the use of DDT before a decision is taken.