Pursuing agroecology will protect our children from toxic pesticides
A solidarity statement by Agroecology X for the Protect Our Children campaign in line with the World Environment Day
We, especially the children and the next generations to come, have the right to a healthy, pesticides-free world. Highly hazardous pesticides such as glyphosate, paraquat, chlorpyrifos, among others and its exposure to children have been proven to be detrimental to children's health causing damages to the nervous system and disruption of their mental and physiological growth. These pesticides are most commonly used near schools where most children are situated. In fact, according to a study by the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP), “98.6% of students in Vietnam reported that they were exposed to the pesticides in their homes and schools.”
The chemical-intensive agriculture system, primarily pushed by large corporations peddling crop protection chemicals and pesticides such as Syngenta-ChemChina, Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-Dupont, and BASF, has provided them huge profits even amid the pandemic. These pesticides and other harmful chemicals are now widely used for production in large agricultural areas especially in Global South countries. In the Philippines, pesticide poisoning has been reported as an increasing problem, especially to vegetable farmers and their families. In fact, in a study in North-East Luzon, “school children were found to start working in vegetable plots as young as 6-9 years of age.” It stated that children suffered from symptoms such as “headaches, skin irritation and abdominal pain after the use of chemicals.” As of today, these cases belong only to a portion of the hundreds of millions of cases of pesticide poisoning in the world.
Is a pesticides-free world possible? Yes. The practice of agroecology provides us a glimpse of what it looks like. Through farmer-led sustainable agriculture, farmers use, preserve and enrich their environment to provide the needs of their families and the entire community. Without the use of pesticides, they achieve environmental resilience and in turn, economic resiliency and a healthy community. Through agroecology, they are safe, healthy and empowered. In fact, before the emergence of pesticides and other chemical inputs, this practice was most common in many communities around the world.
A pesticides-free world is possible. Small organic farmers and other small producers in many rural communities have long proven this. But until corporations, with the aid of public institutions, continue to take control and direct the entire system of food and agricultural production, children among many other possible victims in our communities will continue to face threats of the negative health impacts of pesticides. Agroecology is not just an alternative to pesticide use but it is a movement challenging the dominant powers in our system. Pursuing agroecology is integral to achieving a just, healthy, sustainable and equitable food system which will then provide a safer environment for our children.
Today, on World Environment Day, Agroecology X joins social movements around the world in the call to ban pesticides and protect our children.###