Report on pesticides and the right to food

24 January 2017
Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights
To the Human Rights Council’s 34th session in Feb-March 2017


Pesticides cause an estimated 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year, 99% of which occur in developing countries. Hazardous pesticides impose large costs on Governments. Harmful insecticides have catastrophic impacts on health and the potential for human rights abuses against farmers and agricultural workers, communities living near agricultural lands, indigenous communities, and pregnant women and children.

It is possible to produce healthier, nutrient-rich food, with higher yields in the longer term, without polluting and exhausting environmental resources, suggests a report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to Food, Hilal Elver, prepared with the support of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak. The report makes clear the underreported negative consequences that pesticide practices have had on human health, the environment and society, consequences which are often obscured by a prevailing and narrow focus on "food security."


The report calls for the strengthening of environmental and human rights regimes to protect human health, as well as the natural resources that are necessary to support sustainable food systems.

Implementing the right to adequate food and health requires proactive measures to eliminate harmful pesticides. The solution requires a holistic approach to the right to adequate food. This includes phasing out dangerous pesticides and enforcing regulation grounded on a human rights approach. The solution also involves a transition towards sustainable agricultural practices. This transition must take into account the challenges of resource scarcity and climate change, and ultimately contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read the full report on pesticides and the right to food (A/HRC/34/48)


The Special Rapporteur on the right to food presented this report to the Human Rights Council in March 2017. Questionnaires were circulated to Governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Businesses, and other stakeholders to collect information to support this study. All contributions received are listed below.

Responses from Governments

Responses from NGOs, Businesses and other stakeholders

Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights
Recent Thematic Reports
Issues in Focus
Contact information

Dr. Marcos A. Orellana, Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights

Avenue Giuseppe Motta 48,
CH-1202 Geneva
Fax : +41 22 917 90 06

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