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Agricultural Pesticides and Other Toxic Chemicals are Poisoning Us.

A report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, focuses on agricultural chemicals and states unequivocally that the storyline perpetuated by companies like Monsanto—the one that says we need pesticides to feed the world—is a myth. 

The report says pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning. Its authors say: “It is time to create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production.”

The UN report was authored by Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, special rapporteur on toxics. The report states that chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility. It says the populations most at risk are farmers and agricultural workers, communities living near plantations, indigenous communities and pregnant women and children, who are especially vulnerable to pesticide exposure and require special protections.

The excessive use of pesticides contaminates soil and water sources, causing loss of biodiversity, destroying the natural enemies of pests, and reducing the nutritional value of food. 

The UN report includes a long list of recommendations for moving away from chemical-based agriculture.  At the top of the list was a call out to the international community to work on a comprehensive, binding treaty to regulate hazardous pesticides throughout their life cycle, taking into account human rights principles. Such a treaty should:

•    Aim to remove existing double standards among countries that are particularly detrimental to countries with weaker regulatory systems

•    Generate policies to reduce pesticide use worldwide and develop a framework for the banning and phasing-out of highly hazardous pesticides

•    Promote agroecology

•    Place strict liability on pesticide producers.

Click here for the Report.


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