Protect the world’s children from neurotoxic pesticides

For Immediate Release:  July 19, 2013
Contact:  Paul Towers, 916-216-1082, ptowers@panna.org

Protect the world’s children from neurotoxic pesticides

The tragic death of 23 children in India earlier this week, and hospitalization of over 150 Indian children on Thursday – both linked to pesticides – has focused global attention on the efforts to protect the children’s health while ensuring access to healthy food.

The doctors who treated children earlier this week have confirmed that the children had been poisoned by eating food contaminated with traces of organophosphates. Organophosphate insecticides (including chlorpryifos, parathion, malathion, diazinon among others) are widely used throughout global agricultural, including the United States. In 2011 alone, over 1.2 million pounds of chlorpyrifos were used in California.

Independent studies have shown that organophosphates, especially chlorpyrifos are increasingly linked to impacts on children’s health and intelligence, especially learning disabilities and falling IQs.

Members of Pesticide Action Network International have renewed their call for the reform of the use of organophosphate pesticides and greater investment in agroecology.

In response to these events, PAN North America’s Staff Scientist Dr. Emily Marquez issued the following statement:

"We can’t fail our children – we need to take action to protect children from hazardous pesticides in the U.S. and across the globe. While individual household choices can help, protecting kids from the health harms of pesticides requires real and swift policy change. Dramatically reducing pesticide use, starting with those most hazardous to children, is the best way to protect current and future generations."

PAN Asia and the Pacific’s Senior Technical Advisor Dr. Merial Watts issued the following statement:

"Organophosphate insecticides are highly toxic, especially for children, and should never be kept or used near food, especially that destined for children’s meals."

PAN India’s spokesperson Jayakumar Chelaton issued the following statement:

"The mid-day meal programme is to ensure that children get sufficient and correct nutrition to grow into healthy adults. This shocking incident calls for urgent action from the Bihar government. It should ensure that safety and hygiencic standards of mid-day meals and bring stronger regulations and restrictions of pesticide poisons. I wish to recall the incident in Kerala which had paved the way for the Indian Insecticide Act to materialise and hope this Bihar incident will trigger more stringent measures to ensure safe food for schools."

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