For Immediate Release: June 9, 2022
Reminding the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of its obligations to uphold human rights, today 430 civil society and Indigenous Peoples organizations from 69 countries across the globe called on the FAO Council to rescind the agency’s partnership with CropLife International. The industry association represents the world’s largest pesticide manufacturers, with members including BASF, Bayer, Corteva, FMC and Syngtenta.
Ahead of the FAO Council’s 170th session that begins on June 13, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) submitted to members of the Council a letter co-sponsored by 10 other global networks, and on behalf of the 430 organizations, urging it to take immediate action in the Council session. This demand builds on the ongoing concerns expressed by civil society and Indigenous People’s organizations, and on recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food during the Human Rights Council’s 49th session, namely: “to review the agreement with CropLife International with an eye to human rights concerns” and “to consider directing the Director-General of FAO to rescind the agreement.”
PANNA’s Organizing Co-Director and co-coordinator of the campaign Simone Adler said:
“These pesticide and GM seed manufacturers exert enormous pressure on governments that enact policies to protect against pesticide harms, and they particularly target the export of their products to countries in the Global South.” We cannot allow the UN agency mandated to support farmers and agricultural systems aligning with the industry that aims to influence national policy and causes such egregious pesticide poisoning and environmental devastation.”
The letter pointed out that FAO’s own due diligence process in its new Private Sector Engagement Strategy indicates that companies involved in human rights abuses can be excluded from potential partners. The organizations assert that the “use of hazardous pesticides is inconsistent with the rights protected by the United Nations to: Health; Clean, healthy and sustainable environment; Safe working conditions; Adequate food; Safe and clean water and sanitation; A dignified life; and Rights of Indigenous Peoples, women, children, workers, and peasants and other people working in rural areas.”
A briefing report detailing the necessity to end what civil society and Indigenous peoples call the “Toxic Alliance” between the FAO and the pesticide industry was also submitted to the FAO Council by 11 global organizations spearheading the campaign.
The FAO’s Letter of Intent with CropLife, which has been in effect for over a year and half, outlines cooperation on a broad range of areas. “FAO deepening its collaboration with CropLife International directly counters any efforts toward progressively banning Highly Hazardous Pesticides, as recommended for consideration by the FAO Council as early as 2006,” the letter states. The briefing report further details the ways that this partnership undermines FAO’s own Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management, and its commitments to reducing reliance on pesticides.
The organizations urge FAO to promote agroecology, reminding Member States of their support for this “approach that offers viable and sustainable proposals for generating ecologically-based food and farming systems without the use of toxic pesticides.”
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