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pesticides

A crop duster sprays pesticides on fields near Pullman in Whitman County, Washington. (Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Over 400 Groups Call on UN Food Agency to 'End Partnership With Pesticide Industry'

"We cannot allow the U.N. agency mandated to support farmers and agricultural systems aligning with the industry that aims to influence national policy and causes such egregious pesticide poisoning and environmental devastation."

Brett Wilkins

More than 400 advocacy groups on Thursday urged the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to cancel its partnership with an industry lobby group representing the world's largest manufacturers of toxic pesticides.

"Use of hazardous pesticides is inconsistent with the rights protected by the United Nations." 

As the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Council prepares to convene next week, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) published a letter asserting that the U.N. agency's agreement with CropLife International—whose members include multinational pesticide giants BASF, Bayer, Corteva, FMC, and Syngtenta—"is incompatible with FAO's obligations to uphold human rights."

The letter's signers—who include 10 other global networks acting on behalf of 430 civil society, Indigenous, and other advocacy groups from 69 countries—assert that "use of hazardous pesticides is inconsistent with the rights protected by the United Nations." 

These include the rights to "health; clean, healthy, and sustainable environment; safe working conditions; adequate food; safe and clean water and sanitation; a dignified life; and rights of Indigenous peoples, women, children, workers, peasants, and other people working in rural areas."

In a briefing to FAO member states, groups that signed the letter note that CropLife companies make 35% of their sales from highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), which "pose the highest levels of risk to health and the environment and are behind some of the most egregious poisoning cases and environmental destruction."

According to the paper, 385 million farm workers—44% of the global total—are poisoned around the world annually by HHPs.

"These pesticide and GM seed manufacturers exert enormous pressure on governments that enact policies to protect against pesticide harms, and they particularly target the export of their products to countries in the Global South," Simone Adler, the organizing co-director and campaign co-coordinator at Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), said in a statement.

"We cannot allow the U.N. agency mandated to support farmers and agricultural systems aligning with the industry that aims to influence national policy and causes such egregious pesticide poisoning and environmental devastation," they added.

The letter's signatories urge FAO to promote agroecology, an "approach that offers viable and sustainable proposals for generating ecologically based food and farming systems without the use of toxic pesticides."


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