Rice, the staple food of three billion people around the world, is at risk. Chemical-intensive farming practices have wreaked havoc on rice cultivation, particularly in Asia.
Pesticide Action Network Asia/Pacific, with partners in 15 Asian countries, has launched Collective Rice Action, a campaign that will mobilize farmers, consumers and the media across Asia between January and March this year. Thousands of people will participate to celebrate and protect the strong tradition of rice cultivation around Asia.
Industrial agriculture has resulted in poisoning people and rice fields with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, degraded soil, water and ecosystems — undermining centuries of farmer-led innovation and wisdom in rice cultivation. Traditional rice varieties, with their natural resilience and adaptation to local climates, soils and pest conditions, are being replaced en masse by hybrid varieties and genetically engineered (GE) rice. GE rice strains — with appealing names like Liberty Link and Golden Rice — pose environmental and, possibly, human health risks, and are certain to contaminate non-GE rice fields.
The Green Revolution in Asia introduced “high yielding varieties” of rice, which require large doses of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Rice consumers are put at serious risk from the use of hazardous pesticides in rice cultivation and the genetic engineering of rice seeds; while small-scale rice farming communities are among the poorest sectors in the world due to the impacts of imperialist globalization and corporate control over agriculture” says Sarojeni Rengam of PAN Asia Pacific.
This campaign to restore control of agriculture to farmers is part of PAN’s international focus on food democracy — the human right to safe, nutritious food that has been produced under fair and just conditions. In the month ahead we'll keep you updated about the Collective Rice Action campaign in Asia.