UN Experts Have Denounced The 'Myth' That Pesticides Are Necessary To Feed The World

March 7, 2017

The idea that pesticides are necessary to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.

pesticides a myth and not needed to feed masses
Photo credit: Harvard.edu

A new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the "systematic denial of harms", "aggressive, unethical marketing tactics" and heavy lobbying of governments which has "obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions".

The report says pesticides have "catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole", including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning. Its authors said: "It is time to create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production."

The pesticide industry argues that its products – a market worth about $50 billion a year and growing – are vital in protecting crops and ensuring sufficient food supplies.

"It is a myth," said Hilal Elver, the UN's special rapporteur on the right to food. "Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution."


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