For Immediate Release: December 3, 2015
December 3rd marks the global No Pesticide Use Day, dedicated to the memory of the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster in India which killed thousands and injured hundred of thousands of people. To commemorate this day, and to move towards a future where communities do not have to suffer from exposure to hazardous chemicals, Pesticide Action Network International (PAN International) is calling on governments and corporations around the world to take concrete steps towards a ban of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) and their substitution with ecosystem-based alternatives. So far, 430 organizations from 106 countries have joined PAN International in this call to action.
HHPs are pesticides that have high potential to cause illness, injury or death to humans and animals or damage to the environment. These include pesticides that are acutely toxic to humans or for which there is evidence that they cause cancer, are reproductive toxicants, disrupt the hormone system, cause neurological harm or developmental toxicity in humans. PAN international’s list of HHPs also includes pesticides that harm pollinators, are very persistent in the environment or toxic to aquatic organisms.
PAN International is working to address the impacts of HHPs on children’s health and farmworker health in the different PAN centers around the world. And PAN International is advancing alternatives to HHPs, including promoting agroecological approaches to agriculture. To highlight the health and environmental hazards of HHPs, PAN centers in different regions of the world are participating in actions this Dec 3rd to encourage decision-makers to ban HHPs. These actions range from on-the-ground community education events to direct engagement with policymakers.
PAN Asia & Pacific’s executive director Sarojeni Rengam says, “Our children and our farmers are paying the highest price for HHP use through their impacted health. We cannot let this continue. PAN International is committed to ensuring that HHPs are phased out and don’t lead to any more Bhopals anywhere”. On December 3rd, PAN AP and partners are organizing activities on the impacts of pesticides on children's intelligence in various countries including Cambodia, China, India, Lao, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The “terrible twenty” HHPs that are particularly hazardous for children’s health will be the focus of this campaign.
In response to the recent classification of the widely used herbicide glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, PAN Germany published several scientific statements demanding that the European re-evaluation of glyphosate take into account important data on carcinogenic effects of Glyphosate. PAN Germany’s director Carina Weber says, “PAN and other NGOs will continue to pressure governments to take action on HHPs, and to not bow down to corporate interests.”
On December 3rd, continuing their focus on agroecology and community education, Senegal-based PAN Africa is engaging in awareness raising though a radio talk show on HHPs targeting rural communities in Senegal and through written materials distributed to PAN Africa’s network members. PAN Africa’s executive director Dr. Abou Thiam says, “There are so many effective agroecological alternatives to using HHPs that it seems a crime that HHPs continue being used. Education is key in reducing the use of these hazardous pesticides”.
Among various PAN Latin America (RAPAL) member groups, PAN partners in Chile are focusing on informing health professionals about the hazards of HHP use, as well as on lobbying their government on taking action on HHPs. PAN’s Costa Rican partner Regional Institute of Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), working in collaboration with RAPAL, continues to lobby their national government for reduction in HHP use and their progressive ban. IRET and RAPAL are also carrying out work on agroecological alternatives to HHP use for growing crops such as pineapples and coffee. In Argentina, RAPAL is organizing an international seminar to identify and promote policy measures for HHP elimination. Javier Souza, RAPAL’s coordinator, says, “PAN’s highly hazardous pesticide list is a valuable resource that allows us to pressure governments to ban them and to replace HHPs with agroecological alternatives. HHPs have a significant impact on the health of farmers, farmworkers and all exposed workers in our region.”
PAN North America protects children by restricting the use of HHPs near schools and other places where children live, learn and play. Citizen's groups in several US states are campaigning to regulate pesticide use near schools. PANNA highlights the potential health harms of HHPs through science, social media campaigns and blogs. “Our children can't achieve their full potential or maintain good health if places like schools are exposing them to HHPs," says Judy Hatcher, executive director of PAN North America. "We're working to make these environments safe spaces for kids."
On December 3rd, PAN UK is launching a new video highlighting the problems of HHPs in the coffee sector and showing how some Latin American coffee growers have succeeded in managing pests without HHPs. Meanwhile, closer to home PAN UK will be pushing its latest campaign to end the use of pesticides in UK towns and cities. PAN UK’s executive director Dr. Keith Tyrell sums up the PAN International HHP campaign by saying, “Our future and the health of our ecosystem cannot be sacrificed for corporate profits. PAN International is working hard with our partners around the world to ensure that phasing out HHPs remains high on the list of government priorities everywhere. We make sure communities have an active voice in this process of replacing HHPs with agroecology.”
Available for interviews:
Paul Towers, PAN North America, firstname.lastname@example.org, +10119165883100
Abou Thiam, PAN Africa, abouthiam@pan_afrqiue.org; +223 64898163
Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific, email@example.com
Carina Weber, PAN Germany, firstname.lastname@example.org , +49(0)40-3991910-23
Javier Souza Casadinho, PAN Latin America, email@example.com ,+11 15 3617 1782
Keith Tyrell, PAN United Kingdom, firstname.lastname@example.org, +447588706224