A new United Nations report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council last month is sharing valuable information on the damage the pesticide industry has on our health and the health of the planet, summarizing agro-ecology and organic agriculture as the real long-term solution to feed a fast-growing global population.
The report offers a clear account of global pesticide use in agriculture and its impact on human rights, outlining the negative consequences that pesticide practices have had on human health, the environment and society, which are under-reported and monitored in the shadow of a prevailing and narrow focus on “food security”.
Some highlights from the report are noted below:
Despite the harms associated with excessive and unsafe pesticide practices, it is commonly argued that intensive industrial agriculture, which is heavily reliant on pesticide inputs, is necessary to increase yields to feed a growing world population, particularly in the light of negative climate change impacts and global scarcity of farmlands. Indeed, over the past 50 years, the global population has more than doubled, while available arable land has only increased by about 10 per cent. Evolving technology in pesticide manufacture, among other agricultural innovations, has certainly helped to keep agricultural production apace of unprecedented jumps in food demand. However, this has come at the expense of human health and the environment. Equally, increased food production has not succeeded in eliminating hunger worldwide. Reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the rights to adequate food and health for present and future generations.
This challenge has been exacerbated by a systematic denial, fueled by the pesticide and agro-industry, of the magnitude of the damage inflicted by these chemicals, and aggressive, unethical marketing tactics remain unchallenged.
Hazardous pesticides impose substantial costs on Governments and have catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole, implicating a number of human rights and putting certain groups at elevated risk of rights abuses.