Data Visualisation | European Massive Exports of Banned Pesticides

Banned in the European Union because of their dangerousness, thousands of tonnes of pesticides (such as Syngenta's Paraquat) are exported every year by countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany or France. Based on data collected by Public Eye and Unearthed, these visualizations show that many countries around the world use these substances despite being prohibited in Europe.

Europe banned pesticide exports

Map of European exports of banned pesticides. Total for 2018: 81,615 tonnes.

About these visualizations

The investigative teams of Public Eye and Unearthed worked for months to compile the “export notifications” from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and national administrations. This data is imperfect because it is only what is officially reported (actual exports may differ), but it is the most accurate overview to date. In partnership with Public Eye, I worked on the 2018 data to try to derive a visual product from their files to make this market understandable to the general public.

Paraquat is a flagship product of this “Made in Europe” scandal. This scandal sees pesticides, which are too toxic for the EU and therefore banned, being shipped to countries with weaker regulations. While this practice is legal and known, the main players have been able to hide their activities behind a veil of “commercial confidentiality”. Public Eye

Find the data and analyses of Public Eye and Unearthed investigators here:

Banned in Europe: How the EU exports pesticides too dangerous for use in Europe
PUBLIC EYE

Thousands of tonnes of banned pesticides shipped to poor countries from British and European factories
UNEARTHED

Both these articles link to the full data set. Note that the Public Eye article can also be found in French and German.

You are free to use these visualisations. Visualisations published by Public Eye are available here, but you can also simply use those published directly here (CC-BY license). These visualisations are already featured on Le Monde and RTS.

The complete picture

Distribution of banned european pesticides

Sankey diagram showing where pesticides come from (company and country) and where they go.

In the diagram above, we see that Paraquat produced by Syngenta represents more than a quarter of European exports of banned pesticides. Color doesn’t have a special meaning, it’s just useful for tracking the flow of a particular product.

Focus on 3 major exporters: France, Germany and the United Kingdom

France, Germany and United Kingdom (banned pesticides)

Three portions of the global map above, focused around three countries, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

By dividing the destination countries by continent, we see that these three exporting countries have very different “networks”. France exports mainly to Eastern Europe and Asia. Germany has a strong American market, while also exporting a lot to Asia and Africa. As for the United Kingdom, the main European exporter of banned pesticides, its market is massively oriented towards the Americas while also exporting to Asia.

Focus on pesticides imported by South Africa, Brazil and Ukraine

Brazil, South Africa and Ukraine (banned pesticide)

Focus on products exported to three countries, South Africa, Brazil and Ukraine.

Each of these countries imports a different pesticide, which usually dominates their imports (other products are imported in marginal quantities). Public Eye offers specific analysis of this data:

Brazil, South Africa, Ukraine: high-risk destinations
PUBLIC EYE

Swiss exports

Swiss exports of banned pesticides

Map of Swiss exports of banned pesticides. The scale is not the same as on the European map.

Swiss exports of banned pesticides (which are not included in the above EU exports and come from another source) are significantly smaller. More information on this in this Public Eye article (French and German):

Pesticides interdits : l’hypocrisie de la Suisse
PUBLIC EYE