Why we remember Bhopal | Pesticide Action Network
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Why we remember Bhopal

Kristin Schafer's picture
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Each year on December 3, we join our PAN International colleagues across the globe to mark the anniversary of the deadly pesticide plant leak in Bhopal, India. Today is the 35th anniversary of that tragic event.

We lift up the day to honor the memories of those who were killed, celebrate the perseverance of activists who continue to fight for justice, and to call — loud and clear — for the deep changes needed to avoid future Bhopals.

Slippery corporations

The anniversary is also a reminder of just how hard pesticide corporations will work to duck responsibility for the damage they cause

Union Carbide owned the pesticide plant that killed an estimated 20,000 people in the 1984 tragedy. When that corporation was acquired by Dow Chemical in 1999, the new owners denied any accountability to the families in India whose lives had been destroyed.

Last year, Dow merged with Dupont to become Corteva, an even larger and more politically powerful corporation — which of course also denies any responsibility to the people of Bhopal.

Let’s not let them hide behind their latest rebrand. If you’re active on Twitter, please join me in reminding Corteva the world is watching:

Also, please support our friends at the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal by calling on Congress to force Dow/Corteva to respond to a legal summons from the Government of India. The least they can do is show up in court.

Many reasons for real change

Avoiding deadly events like Bhopal is one of many, many reasons to shift away from a food system that’s so reliant on toxic chemicals.

Scientists have known for years that pesticides are making us sick and putting pollinators and ecosystems at risk around the world. Industrial agriculture is a significant contributor to climate change, and the monoculture cropping systems chemicals create are extremely fragile in the face of climate impacts, leaving farmers to carry the burden as disasters become more frequent and more severe.

We can do better, and we must.

Please join PAN International as we call for a rapid phaseout of “highly hazardous pesticides” — the most dangerous chemicals in use around the world. This new film from our partners at PAN Asia Pacific underscores the urgency of the problems HHPs pose.

We’re also calling for support for farmers to help them step off the pesticide treadmill. We need investment in agroecology, a system of farming that’s being practiced successfully by small farmers across the globe. Agroecology focuses on building healthy soil, so farms are resilient in the face of a changing climate, support sustainable production of healthy foods, and protect ecosystems, farmer livelihoods, families and communities.

It’s time.

Kristin Schafer
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Kristin Schafer's picture

Kristin Schafer is PAN's Executive Director. With training in international policy and social change strategies, Kristin has been at PAN for over 20 years. Before taking on the Executive Director role, she was PAN's program and policy director. She has been lead author on several PAN reports, with a particular emphasis on children's health. She serves on the Policy Committee of the Children's Environmental Health Network. Follow @KristinAtPAN