Today, civil society and Indigenous peoples’ organizations sent a formal request to meet with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Qu Dongyu to discuss widespread public concern with FAO’s announcement last November of plans to formalize a partnership with CropLife International (CLI) — the global trade association of the world’s biggest agrochemical corporations, which produce and promote Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). Two previous requests to meet with the Director-General, sent by PAN International in December, have to-date received no reply from the FAO.
The 11 civil society and Indigenous peoples' organizations that sent today’s joint letter and meeting request co-sponsored a November 2020 letter to FAO Director-General Qu, in which over 350 civil society and Indigenous Peoples' organizations expressed their deep concerns with FAO’s plans to strengthen its official ties with CLI. The groups said the move would undermine the FAO’s mandate as a UN institution and the principles set out in its Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management. Subsequently, 250 scientists and academics wrote to the Director-General expressing similar concerns. The Director-General’s response dated 27 November 2020 did not satisfactorily address these concerns.
As rights holders and members of civil society, the letter’s authors maintain that FAO should immediately abandon its proposed alliance with CropLife; develop an integrated policy to prevent conflicts of interest to ensure that corporate “solutions” are not influencing the FAO’s work regarding sustainability, biodiversity, human health, and food sovereignty; and fulfill its commitment to ensuring all voices are heard by meeting with these groups as a matter of highest priority.
PAN International is a co-sponsor of today’s letter. PAN North America Senior Scientist Marcia Ishii provided this statement:
“Farmers, food system workers, rural communities, and Indigenous peoples around the world are facing devastating harms from multiple converging crises — climate chaos, a still-raging pandemic, and assaults on people’s health and biodiversity posed by reliance on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). At this critical moment, FAO should be providing visionary leadership and support to member states in moving away from dependence on toxic chemicals and transitioning toward healthy, climate-resilient agroecological farming. Instead, Director-General Qu is taking the organization in the wrong direction, aligning FAO with precisely those corporations notorious for their aggressive marketing and sale of many of the world’s most hazardous pesticides. This abdication of FAO’s responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill human rights to health, clean water and environment is unconscionable.
“FAO’s proposed partnership with CropLife is certain to increase the global pesticide industry’s access to policymakers and accordingly, its ability to expand into desired new markets in Africa and elsewhere, while undermining FAO’s integrity and neutrality and putting UN policy and standard-setting processes at risk. Pesticide Action Network denounces FAO’s proposed toxic alliance with corporate agribusiness, and urges the Director-General to redirect his commitment to the farmers, workers, rural communities and Indigenous peoples whose well-being should be his highest priority.”
Please see this link for a copy of the letter.