International Solidarity Statement

We, as members of the international community from Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the continental United States, convened by Pesticide Action Network, are gathered in Hawai`i in January 2016 to stand in solidarity with the movements in Hawai`i working to free the islands from the toxic influence of pesticide/genetic engineering (GE) corporations.

Hawai`i is ground zero for the development, experimental use and production of pesticide-promoting genetically engineered crops. Five chemical corporations – Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow, DuPont/Pioneer and BASF – facilitated by the government of Hawai`i – occupy tens of thousands of acres of the most fertile agricultural land, including public land which should rightfully be in the hands of the K?naka Maoli (Hawaiian nationals). According to state law, water in Hawai`i is part of the public trust and cannot be privatized. Yet these corporations divert and contaminate this most precious and important common resource, leaving quality agricultural lands and key habitats without a source of water.

These land and water grabs are resulting in severe damage to the ecology of Hawai`i, and place the burden of health and environmental costs onto local communities, with no accountability for – or compensation from – the agrochemical industry.

These corporations are holding Hawai`i’s people hostage. Successful democratic processes on seven of the eight Hawaiian islands resulted in policies requiring disclosure of pesticide use, a moratorium on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) until health and environmental effects are evaluated, and pesticide-free buffer zones around sensitive sites like schools and hospitals. Now the chemical corporations have sued all of the counties that passed such policies, stopping their implementation – for the time being.

We can look at Hawai`i to see the nature of these companies and their products: parts of the archipelago are sprayed as much as 250 days per year, or seven out of ten days year round. Many local doctors and nurses have submitted official testimony stating concern that they may be witnessing higher rates of asthma, hormonal diseases, rare cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, and skin disorders in communities living adjacent to experimental fields. Companies have fought even basic notification rules so that families and schools are unable to protect their children from regular chemical exposure.

Workers and their families are most impacted. Just two days ago, ten Syngenta agricultural workers were poisoned by Dow’s product chlorpyrifos and sent to the hospital on Kaua’i. Agricultural workers around the world face similar dangers of acute poisonings and chronic long-term exposure. Similar to other plantations around the world, many of those working on agrochemical operations in Hawai`i are migrants that have themselves been directly displaced by corporate agribusiness.

Photo Credit: Paul Towers

Photo Credit: Paul Towers

Let’s be clear: none of the crops these corporations are growing feed people in Hawai`i; Hawai`i imports more than 90% of its food. The seeds grown in Hawai`i feed primarily factory farms and fuel cars. They are the foundation of the fossil-fuel and resource intensive, polluting, and climate-devastating industrial agricultural system. As has been acknowledged by the most prestigious international bodies, feeding the world sustainably requires a dramatic transformation away from this system.

That these corporations will act so boldly and rashly in the endangered species capitol of the world portends great threat to the rest of our global ecology and humanity. The fight to end the overuse of chemical pesticides and their increasing promotion through genetic engineering begins in Hawai`i, and extends around the world.

In Africa, these technologies are being pushed by the same corporations that are engineering hunger and working to control and patent staple food crops. In Asia, the debt engendered by these chemical corporations and their expensive, patented technologies, has driven rural crises, including an increase in farmer suicides. In the last ten years we have seen a heightened and very aggressive attempt to transform the landscape of ecologically sound food-producing land to genetically modified crops. Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay have become the “transgenic soybean republic,” with devastating health impacts from the associated rise of pesticide use. In Mexico, birthplace of maize, there is strong resistance to genetic theft and GMO maize. In the continental United States – where around half of the farmland is planted GE crops — farmers are facing fewer market options, higher input costs, superweeds, and damage to surrounding crops and ecosystems, while too many rural families face cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

We link our struggles to the struggles of the people of Hawai`i. We pledge our commitment to stand together and organize our communities to protect our homes, our children, and our shared planet. The agrochemical industry is global and so is our collective fight.

Together, we will work towards:

  1. Advancing sustainable agriculture as a holistic, scientific approach and a movement for social transformation that upholds local knowledge and respects indigenous cultures, integrates participatory research, empowerment of women, farmer control over land, water, seeds and forests, protection of workers’ rights and of rural communities, appropriate technology, bio-diversity conservation, access to and equitable distribution of food, equitable sharing of benefits and food self-sufficiency respecting ecological integrity.
  2. Contributing actively to the elimination of harmful pesticides and other agrochemicals and the generation, innovation and promotion of ecological alternatives to pesticide use, especially organic and ecological agriculture with biological, agricultural and cultural diversity as the basis for sustainable communities.
  3. Eliminating the use of harmful pesticides in buildings, transporation, household, public health and other non-agricultural pest control areas.
  4. Fighting for local, national and international agreements to restrict, reduce and eliminate pesticide dependence and to phase out and ban pesticides that cause acute and chronic effects, including endocrine disruption and cancer.
  5. Ensuring food for all, including national policies that promote and ensure the right to food in order to achieve the improvement of human and environmental health. And establishing Food Sovereignty as the inalienable right of peoples, communities, and countries to define, decide and implement their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.
  6. Creating awareness of the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and campaigning to stop the development and use of GMOs in food, agriculture, pharmaceutical crops and animals, forestry and prevent terminator seeds. We demand the implementation of the precautionary principle to prevent the spread of the use of GMOs.
  7. Withdrawal of subsidies for environmentally-unsound agricultural technologies and end all aid by international development agencies for hazardous pesticides, GMOs and industrial agriculture promotion.
  8. Strengthening people’s movements and empowering women, peasants, poor farmers, fisherfolk, dalits, landless farmworkers, Indigenous people, migrant workers and bonded laborers to participate fully in asserting and promoting their rights, decision making in their societies and access to land, resources and knowledge.
  9. Strengthening and integrating gender issues in all agriculture programmes from planning to implementation and evaluation.
  10. Empowering communities to monitor and resist the impact of trade policies, technologies, and industries that affect their health and livelihoods. Launching and supporting campaigns against corporate globalization and the international institutions and instruments that are destroying people’s production and promoting corporate and industrial agriculture.
  11. Achieving the public release of information by all companies, governments and institutions on production, use and trade of pesticides and GMOs. Demand full accountability and liability for injustices by corporations and governments and full compensation for damages for persons, communities and countries.

To find out more about the situation and struggle in Hawaii:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7n4YG66iio

Hawaii Center for Food Safety, Report: Pesticides in Paradise
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/3901/pesticides-in-paradise-hawaiis-health-and-environment-at-risk#

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/23/hawaii-birth-defects-pesticides-gmo

Residents’ lawsuit against DuPont/Pioneer: http://www.stoppoisoningparadise.org/#!video—pesticides-on-kauai/c1vm3

Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A): http://www.hapahi.org/pesticides-gmos/

Hawaii SEED: http://www.hawaiiseed.org/

The Shaka Movement: http://www.mauigmomoratoriumnews.org/

Molokai Mom (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7D4DB5LSBQ

#NoLandNoLife | 140 anti-land grab activists, farmers killed in less than three months: Alarm raised over killings in Ethiopia

Press Release

15 January 2016

PENANG, Malaysia – Regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) raised alarm over the current state of human rights in Ethiopia. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, 140 protesters have been allegedly killed in a crackdown against land grab protesters since November 2015.

Photo by: bbc.com

The victims are said to be opposing the “Addis Ababa master plan” where thousands of farmers are at risk to bedisplaced. The protesters are calling for the cancellation of the said project.

PANAP said that such magnitude of political killings in less than three months is shocking and deplorable, to say the least. It called for a thorough and credible investigation of the alleged killings and make those responsible behind the atrocities to account for their crimes. It also said that it is wise for the government to suspend the contentious project to avoid the further escalation of the conflict.

The group added that if the number of reported killings in Ethiopia is true, it will easily eclipse the total number of killings related to land struggles and conflicts that PANAP has monitored for the entire 2015 – 61 victims of political killings in 14 countries.

All in all, PANAP has monitored over 4,000 victims of human rights violations in the context of land and resources grabbing through its Land & Rights Watch (LR Watch). L&R Watch is an initiative under the No Land, No Life! campaign initiated by PANAP and its partners in the region to regularly monitor and report human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing.

The Penang-based group asserted that the people’s rights to land and resources should be respected and upheld at all times and should never be compromised or undermined by so-called development programs and projects. ###

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, nolandnolife@panap.net

PANAP to join advocates vs. pesticides, GMOs in summit on food justice

PENANG, Malaysia – PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) is joining anti-pesticides, anti-genetic engineering and pro-agroecology advocates from around the world in the weeklong International Food Justice Summit in Hawai’i.

To be held from 14-22 January, the summit is being organized by the Hawai’i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America “to help local leaders engage a broad cross-section of people in dialogue and action around health, agriculture, economics and self-determination”.

According to the organizers, the activities include a speaking tour with international experts, a public conference, targeted meetings with organizers and impacted communities and a small-scale strategy session. PANAP executive director Sarojeni V. Rengam is among those invited to speak in the summit.

“This is a great opportunity to share on and learn from the different strategies to effectively campaign against the toxic pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) being forced on local communities by giant agrochemical corporations,” Rengam said.

Rengam added that holding the summit in Hawai’i is significant in highlighting the people’s struggle against pesticides and GMOs. “The island is being used by the agrochemical giants as their laboratory for genetically engineered crops that will push farmers and other small food producers into greater reliance on harmful pesticides,” said Rengam.

The PANAP official noted that for the past three decades, the big corporations behind pesticides and GMOs have been promising to address hunger and drought while improving the livelihood of farmers. “But this promise does not only remain unfulfilled. Worse, pesticides and GMOs have contributed in aggravating global hunger and poverty, including of those who directly produce the world’s food,” Rengam said.

Pesticide giants Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta – the so-called “Big 6” – dominate not only the global agrochemical market but also control majority of the world’s seeds, while leading the development of controversial genetically engineered crops.

HAPA and PANNA pointed out that people in many Hawaiian communities directly impacted by pesticides and GMOs are rising up and that “the summit will highlight and support this growing movement, and make clear that the harms seen in Hawai’i are also found in communities around the world, and are driven by the same corporations”.

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, PANAP Executive Director (sarojeni.rengam@panap.net)

For more information about the International Food Summit, the organizers may be contacted through the following:
Elif Beall, HAPA, 808.652.5039, ebeall@HAPAhi.org
Gary Hooser, HAPA, 808.652.4479, ghooser@HAPAhi.org
Paul Towers, PAN, 808.206.8868 or 916.588.3100, ptowers@panna.org
Medha Chandra, PAN, 415.728.0177, mchandra@panna.org

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2016-FJS-flyer