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A Toxics-Free Future


The Hindu: Call to phase out highly hazardous pesticides 

Global action to substitute Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) with safer alternatives will be on the agenda of the fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) that began at Geneva, Switzerland on Monday.

Pesticides Action Network-India director C. Jayakumar, who is participating in the five-day conference, has called for collective action to reduce the human rights impacts of HHPs and come out with a clear timeline for the global phase-out of HHPs.

A joint statement issued by Mr. Jayakumar and Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, urged pesticide manufacturers to ensure the traceability of hazardous pesticides throughout the supply chain to protect and respect human rights. Mr. Jayakumar is also the trustee and executive board member of Thanal, an environmental action group based in Thiruvananthapuram.

Observing that agricultural workers, children and low income and minority communities were more vulnerable to HHPs, the statement said victims and their families were unable to secure an effective remedy for human rights violation. It expressed concern over the slow pace of a global transition to safer alternatives.

“Often, the residues of these hazardous pesticides are found in the food that we consume and this impedes the individual’s right to access safe healthy food”, Ms. Elver told the conference. She urged States to reorient their methods of food production towards systems that inflict less harm, are more sustainable, and truly contribute to the realization of all human rights.

Over 100 health professionals and toxicologists from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australasia and Europe have written to the UN, demanding an end to the use of HHPs.