Thursday, March 30, 2017 - A recent report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, focused on agricultural chemicals. The report is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms,” “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralyzed global pesticide restrictions.”
The UN report states unequivocally that the storyline perpetuated by companies like Monsanto—the one that says we need pesticides to feed the world—is a myth, and warns of catastrophic consequences.
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.
The world’s population is set to grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion in 2050. The pesticide industry argues that its products – a market worth about $50bn (£41bn) a year and growing – are vital in protecting crops and ensuring sufficient food supplies. A spokesman for the Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide manufacturers in the UK, said “The UN FAO is clear on this – without crop protection tools, farmers could lose as much as 80% of their harvests to damaging insects, weeds and plant disease.”
The authors of the report recommended a move towards a global treaty to govern the use of pesticides and a move to sustainable practices including natural methods of suppressing pests and crop rotation, as well as incentivizing organically produced food.
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