Report on pesticides and the right to food

Pesticides cause an estimated 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year, 99% of which occur in developing countries. Hazardous pesticides impose substantial costs on Governments and 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 new 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 expounds on the underreported negative consequences that pesticide practices have had on human health, the environment and society, which are often monitored in the shadow of a prevailing and narrow focus on “food security”. It evaluates and recommends 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 that includes phasing out dangerous pesticides and enforcing an effective regulatory framework grounded on a human rights approach, coupled with a transition towards sustainable agricultural practices that take into account the challenges of resource scarcity and climate change, and ultimately contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read the full report here.

Preparation of the report

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 here:

Responses from Governments

Responses from NGOs, Businesses and other stakeholders