Guest blog by Julie Potyraj; read her previous post on community health here
For most of us, the point of choosing sustainably grown foods is to protect our own health and to minimize environmental damage. While these are important reasons for making better choices at the grocery store, what about the human side and the health of those who labor in the fields of the world? Can selecting foods that are grown more sustainably with methods such as integrated crop management also be more ethical?
To answer that question, we must start with the number 1.3 billion. That’s how many agricultural laborers there are in the world. Of that number, up to 41 million are affected every year as a result of pesticide poisoning. That means 32% of this group are harmed by the use of pesticides ever year. Continue reading →
A recent article in the Sri Lanka Plant Protection Industry Journal highlights how the crop clinic concept in Sri Lanka has promoted effective, judicious use of pesticides. PT Bandara and WMDH Kulatunga describe how the Permanent Crop Clinic Programme (PCCP), established in 2009, provides effective advice that both prevents the destruction of natural enemies due to the use of broad spectrum pesticides, and reduces outbreaks of Chronic Kidney Disease, which has become a major socioeconomic issue due to pesticide residues in food. Access to Pest Management Decision Guides and a knowledge bank of information helps plant doctors to find alternative advice where appropriate for prevention, monitoring and control of crop pests in order to ensure minimal risks to human health and the environment.
Read the full article by clicking on the image or the link below.
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a model for sustainable onion production in India, a new training guide produced by FAO and ILO to protect children form the harmful effects of pesticides and a Chinese agricultural technology company providing support to improve food production in Tanzania.
During the 1400s, it is estimated that one third of Europe’s population died of the plague. In order to slow its spread, some cities adopted radical measures. For example, the Viscount of Reggio, Italy, decreed that anyone sick with the plague should be moved to fields outside the city to either recover or die. The word “quarantine” derives from the Italian word “quarantino”, referring to the 40 day isolation period that ships coming from plague areas had to undergo before entering the Mediterranean port of Ragusa.
While the movement of goods and people remains a pathway for the spread of pests and diseases, modern frameworks such as the International Plant Protection Convention have been established in order to promote international cooperation to prevent the spread of pests which cause crop losses and do harm to natural ecosystems. Member countries work together, for example, by identifying potential means for pests to move to new areas (such sea containers or internet sales), and then the member countries agree on approaches to address these issues. For example, International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) have been adopted which provide guidance on surveillance, pest eradication and the establishment of pest free areas.
In particular, the member countries of these Conventions have singled out certain chemicals because of the harm that they can cause to human health and the environment. The online search tool makes it easy to access information on these chemicals, and it brings together information on management and risk reduction across the chemicals’ life cycles. With the click of a button, it is possible to access information on the production, trade, storage, use and safe disposal of these problematic pesticides and other chemicals.
Written by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI Switzerland
As has been mentioned before in this blog, there are a staggering number of chemicals in the world – estimates go as high as 2 million different preparations for sale. This is a lot for regulators in any given country to assess and monitor for safety concerns, especially given the nature of many of the problems associated with pesticides. While symptoms of acute pesticide poisoning become apparent relatively rapidly after exposure, chronic effects such as cancer can be caused by repeated, low level exposure over extended periods of time. For these chronic problems, it is much more difficult to uncover the connections between the chemical and the disease.
International agreements such as the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions provide formal channels for information sharing on these issues between countries.
At a recent workshop on pest management and pesticide risk reduction, Mr David Kamangira, Senior Deputy Director in Zambia’s Department of Agricultural Research Services, offered up a suggestion for a grassroots approach for sharing information and staying informed about pesticides. He shared his experience with the “Pesticides-L” mailing list, an online forum for discussions regarding pesticides management issues. Moderated by Dr Andrea Rother of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine of the University of Cape Town, Pesticides-L is open to anyone with an interest in issues related to pesticides. Posts to the list cover topics ranging from research results on human health and environmental effects to policy debates to meeting announcements. The Pesticide-L mailing list is a rich information source and a valuable tool for linking together a global community of stakeholders such as researchers, NGO’s, chemical companies, policy makers, affected individuals, unions, farmers, community groups and government representatives. To subscribe to this list, email ‘email@example.com’.
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including surveillance robots that can detect weeds and pest insects, a focus on gender capacity development in Ethiopia and smallholder farmers in Africa adopting practices to improve their field soil health.