Phasing out highly hazardous pesticides with agroecology: Pesticide Action Network releases book at ICCM4

Press Release by PAN International | 29th September 2016

Agroecological practices can increase farm productivity and food security, improve rural livelihoods and adaption to climate change, and reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture.

At the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in Geneva, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International is releasing its book Replacing Chemicals with Biology: Phasing out highly hazardous pesticides with agroecology. click to download

FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said in Paris in February this year “The model of agricultural production that predominates today is not suitable for the new food security challenges of the 21st century… Since food production is not a sufficient condition for food security, it means that the way we are producing is no longer acceptable.”

The new PAN book was written to address the concerns of policy makers around the world who are faced with the need to replace the use of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) with safer and sustainable alternatives.

“Modern agroecological approaches to food production, together with many of the ecological practices that have evolved with farmers working alongside nature through hundreds of years, are proving to be sustainable, economically advantageous and good for food security” says Dr Meriel Watts from PAN Asia Pacific and main author of the book.

Successful cases of agroecological farming in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and USA, presented in the book, substantiating the long-standing claim that ecological principles applied to agriculture are effective tools in the management of pests, including weeds, and provide sustainable livelihoods to farmers and rural communities.

“There is world recognition that agricultural production cannot continue its business as usual. Agroecology offers a viable strategy to increase agricultural productivity, build farmers’ resilience, and protect the environment,” says Sarojeni Rengam, executive director of PAN Asia Pacific.

“The experiences in this book show how farmers using agroecological practices benefit from savings on agrochemical inputs and from improving their overall farm productivity. Getting better prices or market options for safer food helps farming households too” says Dr Stephanie Williamson, from PAN UK, and co-author of the book.

The case studies show that agroecological farming can improve food security and strengthen food sovereignty, while providing better adaptation to climate change and reducing harmful environmental impacts.

“Advancing equitable and sustainable development goals in agriculture requires grounding agrifood systems in agroecology as the central strategy,” says Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist at PAN North America, and one of the contributors to the book. “By integrating state-of-the-art science with local and traditional knowledge, agroecology offers a powerful solution to today’s mounting social, economic and environmental stresses of climate change, water scarcity, land degradation and rural poverty.”

The book also presents national and international policy recommendations designed to assist policy makers to implement the changes necessary to support widespread adoption of agroecology.

At the ICCM4 meeting in Geneva, Sep 28- October 2, 2015, delegates can decide to take action on a request by the Africa region to formally establish a Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs. PAN is co-organizing a side event with the global NGO network, IPEN, entitled “Closing the Gap on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs): Agroecology & the Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs.” The book, Replacing Chemicals with Biology, will be released at this event, as it provides concrete guidance to government delegates which also support the Africa region’s proposal for action.

Notes for Editors:
Numerous high level studies, including those by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food have concluded that the greatest scope for improving food production and food security lies in small-scale, ecologically-based diversified production systems, especially in developing countries.

“If we do persist with business as usual, the world’s people cannot be fed over the next half-century. It will mean more environmental degradation, and the gap between the haves and have-nots will expand. We have an opportunity now to marshal our intellectual resources to avoid that sort of future. Otherwise we face a world nobody would want to inhabit.”
– Professor Robert T. Watson, Director of the IAASTD

“… scaling up agroecological practices can simultaneously increase farm productivity and food security, improve incomes and rural livelihoods, and reverse the trend towards species loss and genetic erosion.”
– Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, 2011

About the book                                               Download

Replacing Chemicals with Biology: Phasing out Highly Hazardous Pesticides with Agroecology” provides powerful evidence from The current model of industrial agriculture is a dead end every region of the world of improved yields, greater profitability for farmers, improved health, improved food security and sovereignty, greater resilience to adverse climate events, better opportunities for women farmers, improved biodiversity and social benefits such as better cooperation between farmers and within communities. For example, farmers practicing Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture in India find that their costs have been slashed by a third whilst yields have been maintained. There are seven core principles of agroecology which aim to develop and maintain an agroecosystem that works with nature, not against it – creating a balance that keeps pests in check.

Adverse effects of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) on people and the environment have been a global concern for many years. In 2006, this was clearly expressed by the FAO Council when it recommended a progressive ban on HHPs. The concern crystallized at UNEP’s Fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in Nairobi in 2012, with the submission of a conference room paper supported by at least 65 countries and organizations. The proposed resolution included supporting “a progressive ban on HHPs and their substitution with safer alternatives”. While the resolution was not immediately adopted, countries participating in subsequent regional meetings of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) have reiterated concern about HHPs and called for more information on ecosystem-based alternatives. At SAICM’s Open-Ended Working Group in December 2014, following a call by the entire African region for a global alliance to phase-out these chemicals, it was agreed a proposal would be developed for ICCM4.

Pesticides, designed to kill living organisms and deliberately released into the environment, now contaminate all parts of the world – soil, water, air, fog, snow, ice, the bark of trees, the Arctic, grasses high in the Himalayas and wildlife everywhere. They also contaminate people across the globe, and ordinary everyday exposures through use, drift and residues in food and water have resulted in a huge human toll including acute effects, chronic health problems and deaths.

Recent field surveys show that a very high proportion of farmers and agricultural workers exposed to pesticides through their work are suffering acute health effects: in Pakistan, 100 percent of women picking cotton after pesticides were sprayed, in Bangladesh 85 percent of applicators, in Burkina Faso 82 percent of farmers and in Brazil 45 percent of agricultural workers surveyed. Agricultural production also suffers from loss of pollinators and the beneficial insects that provide natural control of pests.

The purpose of this publication is to provide information drawn from all regions to assist countries in replacing HHPs with ecosystem-based approaches to pest and crop management – replacing chemicals with biology. It draws together previously published and new material in a form that is accessible for policy- and decision-makers at the national and international level, as well as providing practical guidance at the farm and farm-support level. It also points out that use, and phasing out, of HHPs must be seen in the context not only of human health and environmental impacts and costs, but also in the context of food security, poverty reduction, and climate change.


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