Homicidal pesticides and ecocides, new UN report


On January 24, 2017, Hilal Ever, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, released a report (1) devoted to pesticide killings and ecocides. New data on the dangers of agrotoxics to human rights, health and the planet. With ‘
catastrophic impacts
‘ on workers in agriculture, consumers and their vulnerable groups, and the natural resources needed to develop sustainable food systems.


are a global human rights issue

Their use can have very negative consequences on the enjoyment of the right to food. About 200,000 deaths from acute poisoning are attributed to agrotoxics each year. 99 percent occur in developing countries. Here
Big Ag
(3) has an easy time getting more lax regulations, and their disapplication. Also because of this, it is not easy to collect data on the overall impact of the phenomenon analyzed.

Against the use of hazardous agrotoxics

Human health is threatened
of chronic exposure to hazardous substances with which cancer, Alzheimer ‘s and Parkinson’s diseases, endocrine disruption, growth disorders, and infertility are associated. Neurological and neuromotor disorders, asthma and allergies, hypersensitivity, and rare diseases. Symptoms can occur years later, making access to effective remedies and prevention difficult.

The risks sanitari moreover, they are never evaluated extensively enough before agrotoxics are placed on the market. ‘Thereò is especially true for ‘inactive’ ingredients, those namely ‘added to improve the efficacy of the pesticide active ingredient and that cannot be analyzed and are rarely disclosed on the product label‘. Also noted is the insufficiency of studies on combined effects of exposure to multiple pesticides in food, water, soil and air. (4)

In the name of human rights and the environment

The most vulnerable victims
are children. The venom is all the more effective when body weight units are reduced, and vital organs are developing. But even before conception, as well as prenatally, agrotoxics set the stage for miscarriages and premature births. This is followed by developmental disorders, leukemia, and autism, which can often be traced to this cause. (5)

Workers in agriculture
are subject to higher levels of exposure. And so do their families, as they bring home the residue of poisons on their skin, clothing and footwear. Children and adolescents especially at risk, given that agriculture employs 60 percent of child labor globally, employment precautions are often misunderstood and protective equipment inadequate.

Environmental contamination
– of soils and water, as well as airborne – multiplies the sources of intoxication, with effects that persist for decades. The palm oil supply chain in Guatemala is brought up as an example. Pesticide used on crops has killed all life in the Pasión River. Depriving a community of 13,000 people of its primary food resource, fish. And atrazines, which still contaminate drinking water even in Europe, years after they were banned.

The recommendation
addressed to the UN Human Rights Council is to work toward a binding international treaty regulating the use of hazardous agrotoxics, which should be banned globally. Affirming the responsibility of their producers, including in relation to misinformation about the life cycle hazards of substances released into the environment. Member states must align standards to protect rights. And promote the adoption of ecological agricultural practices (
), the only ones that can ensure sustainable production for societies and ecosystems.

Dario Dongo


(1) The report, written in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights implications of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. ATTACHMENT: REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD

(2) Pesticides are defined in the report as ”
any substance or mixture of substances of chemical and biological ingredients intended to repel, destroy or control any pest or regulate plant growth
‘. See also chapter 2 of the e-book “GMOs, the Big Scam”

(3) The epithet
Big Ag
collects the giants of industrial agriculture, seeds, and agrotoxics. They are closely related in operations and sometimes even in their respective corporate holdings

(4) Frank Eyhorn, Tina Roner , and Heiko Specking,
Reducing Pesticide Use and Risks – What Action is Needed?, Briefing Paper.
(HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, 2015)

(5) Enrique Ostrea, Dawn Bielawski and N.C. Posecion, ‘
Meconium analysis to detect fetal exposure to


, (on
Archive of Disease in Childhood
, vol. 91, no. 8, September 2006)