Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Global Politics of Pesticides

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Global Politics of Pesticides

Article excerpt

We have subjected enormous numbers of people to contact with these poisons, without their consent and often without their knowledge.

Many Pesticides, now banned in their countries of manufacture because of adverse health and environmental effects, increasingly are exported to Latin America. In the countries of the region, especially those where agricultural products account for a large volume of exports, these pesticides are used with little restriction, placing the health of farmworkers at high risk.

Chemical pesticides are also responsible for water pollution, soil degradation, insect resistance and resurgence, and the destruction of native flora and fauna. Pesticides kill insects as well as their natural predators; and over time, many of the parasites build up a resistance to the chemicals. As a result, the continued and increasing use of pesticides becomes necessary.

Public health professionals and environmentalists more and more agree that products banned or severely restricted in industrial countries should not be exported to developing countries; however, no country prohibits the export of pesticides banned at home. In fact, in spite of the health and environmental risks, pesticide sales to parts of the Southern Hemisphere, particularly the richer countries in Latin America, are growing. A 1987 World Watch Paper revealed that between 1972--the second anniversary of Earth Day--and 1985, imports in pesticides in Latin America increased by 48 percent. And last year alone, global agrochemical sales rose by nearly 12 percent. The trade liberalization and developmental strategies promoted by international lending agencies encourage cash crops for exports, which will further increase pesticide use in agriculture-exporting countries.

Chemical companies argue that there are compelling reasons to export pesticides overseas, such as to sustain agricultural yields. Instances of starvation and population growth in developing countries are frequently cited to justify this approach. However, recent studies show that most pesticides are instead applied to export crops. Corporations controlling the production and marketing of exports demand blemish-free produce. …

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