Ensuring Healthy Lives and Promoting Wellbeing for All
The distribution and use of pesticides in the Pacific region for agriculture and other purposes have been issues of concern over the past decades. The use of pesticides has been acknowledged as possibly threatening: the safe production of foods; the health of those exposed to pesticides during application, in
particular farmers and their families; as well as the surrounding environments of farms, including waterways.
Recent World Health Organisation (WHO) reports have stated that there are three million cases of pesticide poisoning each year, and up to 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries. Pesticide use has also been linked to headaches and nausea and to chronic impacts, such as cancer, reproductive harm, diabetes and endocrine disruption. Incessant use of chemicals in farming is depleting soils
and contaminating water.
Unlike chemical-based agriculture, Organic Agriculture does not use harmful chemicals, such as the weed killer Glyphosate, which WHO has recently defined as a “probable carcinogen”. Traces of Glyphosate have been found in food, water and the air in the United States and Europe and, while these tests have not been carried out in the Pacific, Glyphosate is one of the most common weedicides used in the Pacific Islands.
As well as deaths caused through exposure during use and in the environment, WHO also estimates that around 30 per cent of global suicides were due to direct pesticide self-poisoning. In the Pacific, poisoning by pesticides is prevalent, in particular in Fiji where between 2000 – 2004, 17 per cent
of suicide deaths were caused by ingesting of the weed killer Paraquat. In Samoa, almost half of suicide attempts between 2000 – 2004 were through ingesting paraquat . WHO has stated that limiting access to these substances saves lives.
By working with farmers to eliminate the use of chemicals in growing food by introducing safe organic alternatives, we can make a significant contribution to reducing the harmful effects of chemicals on people and the planet, and contribute to wellbeing for all.