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IFOAM: Pesticides a global human rights concern; call for a new treaty

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IFOAM Organics International recently reported on the demand of two UN experts (the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and the Special Rapporteur on toxics) that dangerous pesticides used in agriculture should be regulated and phased out and should be replaced by sustainable farming techniques. They say that excessive use of pesticides is a threat to human health and the environment and that it is a myth that pesticides are necessary for food security. The report states that the use of pesticides is a global human rights concern.

They reported to the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the differing production, use and protection standards pertaining to dangerous chemicals in various countries are inadequate, with a serious impact on human rights. They said  that pesticides are causing an estimated 200,000 deaths by poisoning every year, with 99% in developing countries with weak health and safety and environmental regulations.

Pesticides: dangerous for human health and environment

Exposure to pesticides has been linked to a range of serious diseases, including cancer. People  likely to be exposed to chemicals need special protection. They emphasised that it is incumbent on states to protect the rights of children not to be exposed to pesticides. Many children die or suffer because of food contaminated by pesticides. Children working in global supply chains, one of the worst forms of child labour, are exposed to hazardous pesticides.

Pesticides are a danger to the environment and  the whole ecological system that we depend on for our food. The impact of excessive use: contamination of soil and water, loss of biodiversity, destruction of insects that control pests, reduction in the nutritional value of food, and the huge cost to the economy. Neonicotinoids are particularly dangerous because  they are suspected of killing bees, and since 71% of crops are pollinated by bees, the danger is manifest. They emphasised the lack of a global treaty to regulate pesticides, leaving the protection of human rights incomplete.

The authors of the report are very critical of the agrochemicals industry: denial of hazards and the the scale of impacts, blaming farmers for misusing its products, unethical marketing tactics, influencing policymakers and contesting scientific evidence. They emphasised the need for a global treaty to regulate pesticides.

The alternative: abandon chemical-based agriculture; biology not chemicals; sustainable farming to feed the world, and maintaining the rights of people to adequate food and health.




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