HRC34 – IADL oral intervention on the adverse human rights impact of pesticides

34th session of the Human Rights Council - Micòl Savia, IADL permanent representative at the UN in Geneva, delivered the following oral statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) thanks the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes for calling the attention of the international community on the adverse and severe human rights impact of pesticides.

As you outlined in your report, hazardous pesticides have catastrophic effects on the environment, human health and society as a whole; and farming without or with minimal use of toxic chemicals is feasible and would produce healthier and nutrient-rich food. Nevertheless, due to pesticides and agro industry’s efforts to downplay the harm being done and the attitude of complacent governments, those dreadful chemicals are still in use. Regrettably many member states not only fail to comply with their obligation to ensure food safety, but they are also negotiating international free trade agreements which lower standards of human rights protection.

Pesticides industry, as many other crucial sectors of activities, is controlled by few transnational corporations which wield extraordinary power. As you remarked, existing legislation largely fails to account for the considerable role big business play in the violation of human rights. Moreover the voluntary nature of available soft law instruments clearly limits their effectiveness. For these reasons we strongly support your call to strengthen the accountability framework, in particular by adopting an international legally binding treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations.

Finally we strongly agree with your conclusion that “while efforts to ban and appropriately regulate the use of pesticides are a necessary steps in the right direction, the most effective, long-term method to reduce exposure to these toxic chemicals is to move away from industrial agriculture”. At this regard, which kind of contribution do you think the Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people living in rural areas could give to such shift toward sustainable agriculture practices and for the realization of the right to food?

8 March 2017

HRC34 – IADL -ID-Right-to-Food

HRC34 – Report SR on the Right to Food (pesticides)