PANNA: UN FAO focuses on organic agriculture; California reports pesticide use up; Texas cotton farmer to head Organic Exchange,



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UN FAO focuses on organic agriculture; California reports pesticide use up; Texas cotton farmer to head Organic Exchange, and more

November 23, 2006

Hold Syngenta responsible for global paraquat poisonings: Paraquat, an extremely toxic herbicide, poisons tens of thousands of people every year. Swiss NGO Berne Declaration is holding a virtual “People’s Vote” on Syngenta’s practices and asking for broad participation. PAN groups and many others are collaborating in the campaign to get Syngenta to stop production and marketing of paraquat—a chemical their own studies show can’t be used safely in the real world. You and your friends can join in demanding that Syngenta take responsibility for the devastating health impacts of this highly hazardous pesticide. Visit to read the case against Syngenta and register your verdict of Guilty.

UN FAO to explore organic agriculture’s potential: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) plans to investigate the potential for organic agriculture to support food security needs around the world, according to a report by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The FAO Committee on World Food Security met in Rome and concluded that practically no progress has been made with the World Food Summit targetsince its establishment in 1992. IFOAM organized a side event at the meeting, emphasizing the potential of organic agriculture to achieving global food security. At the meeting, Italian Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Patrizia Sentinelli stressed organic production’s importance to sustainable local development, stating: "Solutions for food security should both address the need of small holders and should not exploit the environment and natural resources. Producers having direct contact with consumers, having security in access to land and some financial space through micro credit, can contribute themselves to a sustainable future. Organic Agriculture drives local development so that local communities can be sustainable in their economy and in their use of and dependence on natural resources like water and land."

California farmers using more pesticides: On Nov. 15, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued their report on pesticide use in the state for 2005, characterizing the data as showing that “highly toxic categories are down again”. DPR’s director Mary-Ann Warmerdam added “we see a growing reliance on sustainable pest management” but failed to mention that use of some of the most toxic chemicals increased substantially. With international pressure to phase out the ozone-depleting pesticide methyl bromide, many farmers are switching to other high-hazard fumigants to “sterilize” the soil, particularly the carcinogenic Telone (1,3-dichloropropene) instead. Telone was banned in California in 1990 because of the cancer hazard but brought back as methyl bromide was listed for phaseout. Its use reported in 2005 was 9.3 million pounds. PANNA senior scientist Dr. Susan Kegley told the Los Angeles Times, "Growers are not making progress toward using less-toxic alternatives for soil pests, and that's a problem that needs to be addressed." Use of one of the more toxic organophosphorus insecticides, chlorpyrifos, increased for the fourth year in a row, up to 2 million pounds from 1.4 million in 2001.

Fiber news – new leadership at Organic Exchange: Organic Exchange, a non-profit organization committed to expanding global production and use of organic cotton and other fibers, has chosen LaRhea Pepper, a fifth generation Texas cotton farmer and organic leader as their new Executive Director. Organic Exchanges’s founding president Rebecca Calahan will now head the organization’s program development, including “helping companies develop their organic strategies, shape and guide new programs and innovative projects, and lead fundraising efforts.” Organic Exchange has also hired Simon Ferrigno, formerly of Pesticide Action Network United Kingdom, as their new Development Director, and their new Board Chair is Jill Dumain, Director of Environmental Analysis for Patagonia, Inc. Patagonia was among the first apparel companies to switch to 100% organic cotton in the mid-1990s.

Holiday Gift and Reading Suggestions: PAN offers gift memberships year round, and there’s no better time than the holidays to honor a special someone by connecting them with the network of scientists, activists, health professionals, farmers and gardeners working toward a healthier world for friends, pets, farm workers, neighbors, all of us. Purchasing your PANNA gift membership is quick and easy online.

Want to make the PAN gift really special? Email us as soon as possible: we have a few autographed copies left of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, available as a thank you for memberships and donations of $150 or more.

For those interested in sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty and globalization, here are some solid resources recommended by PAN staff:

Agroecology and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in the Americas  Describes market opportunities for small-scale producers, the regional food sovereignty movement, agroecological production, impacts on growers of regional free trade agreements in the Americas and other issues. May be ordered in English or Spanish for US$32, $12 for students.

Developing and Extending Sustainable Agriculture A New Social Contract  Explores challenges faced by farmers and ranchers in evolving new agricultural systems for the 21st century. Available from Hawthorne Press, The first chapter is free online.

Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Globalization  Author Jerry Mander and celebrated Indigenous leader, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, report on “a momentous collision of worldviews that pit the forces of economic globalization against the Earth's Indigenous peoples.” US$30.00, postage and handling included, from International Forum on Globalization.

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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