In Solidarity Against DAPL To Protect Water & Children

The opposition to the construction of North Dakota Access Pipeline reflects the similar struggle in our region to protect our rivers and environment from pollutants.

State of rivers in particular has been a major concern given the fact that persistent organic pollutants in the form of pesticides were found in tap water and surface water of rivers in Malaysia.

A 2015 study by UKM on Organochlorine Pesticides Residue Level in Surface Water of Cameron Highlands, Malaysia revealed the staggering finding which was then disseminated in a seminar by PANAP.

These toxic pesticides found do not only contaminate the water sources but put humans in contact at severe health risks, particularly leaving deadly long-lasting impacts on vulnerable young children.

While, it is still not all doom and gloom when it comes to environmental advocacies, the struggle continues.

In Cameron Highlands, schools are also dangerously close to farms that have records of highly hazardous pesticide use. All the schools below are in Cameron highlands and are within 2km reach of farms.

SJK Ladang SG Palas is surrounded by farms
SJK Ladang SG Palas is surrounded by farms
SMK Ringlet is less than 2 km from farms
SMK Ringlet is less than 2 km from farms
SJK(C) Kea Farms is less than 2km from farms
SJK(C) Kea Farms is less than 2km from farms

There has been sufficient evidence that pinpoints how pesticides drift hundreds of meters from the area of use at health-harming concentrations for days and even weeks after application.

Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Minister Malaysia earlier this year said, “Expanding the river reserves from the minimum 10m to 20m would shield rivers from pollution due to human activities. This would also serve as a filter for mud, soil and solids washed down from hills, development and construction sites and agricultural land.”

Hence, the call for the reserve or buffer zone expansion comes as a significant milestone for environmental activism as well as for rural and tribal communities on the front line of struggle for the preservation of water resources. It shouldn’t stop here.

Earlier, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh in the Malaysian Dewan Rakyat session argued that a research by experts from the year 2011 to 2013 “indicated that some of the pollutants found in the river were due to new usage”.Despite being banned some of the pesticides are still being widely used. The experts from the Center for Water Research & Analysis of UKM conducted another research to ascertain the level of pollutant concentration in the water supply, she added.

“A second project was initiated, which included a monitoring program beginning August 2014, samples were taken from 7 stations including one from a tap in Brinchang,” she said while reaffirming that the results also confirmed that pollutants were found in drinking tap water.

Hence, the buffer zones are required not only in the vicinity of rivers but their reach should be extended to other areas occupied by people as well. Homes, public spaces and schools especially with young children should have buffer zones too.

For an issue of such pressing nature, the responses from the other party lacked urgency. That in a way shed the light on how much of political will there is for a safer environment.

While the government is taking efforts to promote non-chemical alternatives such as the Malaysian Organic Certification Scheme or myOrganic, more support is needed. Support from both the public and other government agencies would further promote efforts to preserve water and provide safer zones for our children who are most prone to the toxic pesticide implications.

We stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in protecting the sanctity of our water which is important not only as our fundamental human need but to ensure our very existence, for future generations could be spared from jeopardy.

PANAP and its partners are also demanding state governments to institute pesticide-free buffer zones to protect children in the rural and agricultural area from the harmful effects of pesticide exposures.

Help to create awareness on pesticide-free buffer zones and realize that it can have the power to protect our future generations from the impacts of toxic pesticides.

Read more and sign the petition here.

Group calls for pesticide-free buffer zones around schools

PENANG, Malaysia – As children are globally celebrated today, the regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) along with partners have called for pesticide-free buffer zones to put our children out of pesticides harm’s way.

As the world observes the UN’s Universal Children’s Day today, regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) and its partners called on governments to implement pesticide-free buffer zones around schools to help protect children from pesticides’ harmful effects.

Children’s Day marks the adoption by the UN of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989. For PANAP, however, the rights of children to health and development as articulated in the said conventions are being violated by the continued use of toxic agrochemicals.

“It is distressing to find out that many children are exposed to pesticides including in schools that are close to farms and other agricultural sites that spray these poisonous chemicals. This is a serious matter that should be urgently addressed by policy makers,” said PANAP Executive Director Sarojeni Rengam.

Rengam argued that so-called ‘pesticides drift’ – the airborne movement of pesticides away from the intended target – poses great risk to rural communities, especially children. Pesticides and other toxic chemicals have detrimental impact on a child’s neurodevelopment and intelligence leading to learning disorders, among other effects.

PANAP noted that pesticides drift was behind the recent poisoning of 30 school children in Po Ampil Primary School in Cambodia. Similar incidents have also occurred in the US (Mendocino and Ventura Counties, California), the Philippines (Davao del Norte), and Sri Lanka (Nuwara Eliya District).

For her part, Deeppa Ravindran, Coordinator of PANAP’s Protect Our Children from Toxic Pesticides campaign, added “Schools are supposed to be safe places for children to learn and grow. That they are constantly exposed to pesticides even in such places is just unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the UN is also beginning to pay attention on the issue. Last September 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics Baskut Tuncak said that “States have a duty and businesses a corresponding responsibility, to prevent childhood exposure (from toxic chemicals)”. But Tuncak observed that the laws, policies and practices of States and businesses are inconsistent with such obligation.

PANAP emphasized that implementing pesticide-free buffer zones is one of the immediate measures that governments can do to protect and uphold the rights of children.

Reference: Deeppa Ravindran, PAN Asia Pacific, Pesticides Programme Coordinator, deeppa.ravindran@panap.net

Taking a stand to protect our children on the occasion of the International Children’s Day would be a meaningful gift to humanity. Kindly sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/urge-the-state-governments-to-institute-pesticide-free-buffer-zones-around-schools.

Defend food sovereignty! Strengthen community resilience amid climate crisis!

From 1-16 October, 34 organisations of farmers, rural women and advocacy groups from 17 countries across the globe have responded to the most urgent crises faced by small-scale farmers and food producers, especially in poor countries- climate change, hunger, food insecurity, and land grabbing through PAN Asia Pacific’s “16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources”.

Urge the state governments to institute pesticide-free buffer zones around schools

Dear Friends,

Can we still do more to protect children from toxic pesticides?

Yes we can! And you can definitely help by signing the petition and supporting our call for pesticide-free buffer zones around schools.

Schools are meant to be safe sanctuaries for children to learn and grow but terrifyingly children in Asia are consistently being poisoned in these supposedly safe learning environments. Children in schools are being exposed to pesticides via reckless aerial spraying and spray drifts that target their young developing bodies.

The world will celebrate International Children’s Day on November 20. Our partners across Asia and the Pacific are gearing up towards demanding local authorities to set up a 1 km or more buffer zones around their schools. You help bring about change by supporting them too!

Children must be protected from pesticide drifts. We do not want a repeat of the incidents in Mendocino and Ventura Counties (California, USA), Davao del Norte (Philippines), Nuwara Eliya District (Sri Lanka), and most recently in Po Ampil Primary School in Cambodia, where more than 30 children were poisoned by pesticides during schooling hours alone.

It is evident through numerous studies that pesticides negatively impact the life, health and intelligence of children and thus violate the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. CRC recognizes the child’s “inherent right to life” and that the survival and development of the child should be ensured to the “maximum extent possible”.

Available information show that pesticides drift hundreds of meters from the area of use at health-harming concentrations for days and even weeks after application, especially in rural areas in India, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Philippines, Sri Lanka and many other countries in Asia. 1.5 billion children in Asia are estimated to live in rural areas.

Children’s right to a healthy life should always be of utmost importance over any growing corporate interest. It is unacceptable that countries in Asia continue to be the toxic dump site of pesticides mainly peddled by developed countries. Inadequate laws and regulations in this region should be overhauled specifically for the best interest of our children.

Pesticides users and farms using pesticides in the vicinity of schools should be supported to move towards non-chemical alternatives and agroecology.

We, the PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) and its partners, together with the global community, thus ask the governments to declare pesticide-free buffer zones around schools that would protect children from harmful exposure to pesticides. As an initial risk reduction measure, the buffer zone must have at least a 1km radius.

Making this landmark declaration on the occasion of the International Children’s Day would be a meaningful gift to humanity.

Help us create awareness on pesticide-free buffer zones and realize that it can have the power to protect our future generations from toxic pesticides.

Please sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/urge-the-state-governments-to-institute-pesticide-free-buffer-zones-around-schools

 

Hoping for your full support in this fight to protect our children,

Saro, Deeppa, Mila, Sathesh, and the PANAP family

 

Sources:

Abdullah M. P., Abdul Aziz Y. F., Othman M. R., Wan MohdKhalik W. M. A. 2015. Organochlorine pesticides residue level in surface water of Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. Iranica Journal of Energy and Environment 6 (2): 141-146. http://www.idosi.org/ijee/6%282%2915/10.pdf

Convention on the Rights of the Child. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf

FAO Corporate Document Repository. 2005. Proceedings of the Asia regional workshop on the implementation, monitoring and observance of the international code of conduct on the distribution and use of pesticides. http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/af340e/af340e04.htm#TopOfPage

FAO and ILO. 2015. Protect children from pesticides. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3527e.pdf

National Toxics Network, Inc. 2009. The threat of pesticide spray drift. http://www.ntn.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/NTN-SPRAYDRIFT-A5-Lo-res.pdf

Inquirer (Philippines). 79 downed by chemical fumes from Davao del Norte plantation: Pesticide Mocap produced by Bayer CropScience. November 30, 2006. http://www.cbgnetwork.org/1728.html

Interface Development Interventions, Inc. 2011. Liabilities of companies and public officers of the government for the non-observance and non-enforcement of buffer zones in specific banana plantation and its remedies. http://idisphil.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Legal-Research-on-the-Liability-of-Companies-and-Government-Officers-for-the-Non-Compliance-and-Non-enforcement-of-Buffer-Zones-in-Banana-Plantations.pdf

Kegley S., Katten A. and Moses M. 2003. Secondhand pesticides: Airborne pesticide drift in California. PANNA. http://www.pesticideresearch.com/site/docs/SecondhandPcides.pdf

KEMI 2015. Regional programme: Towards a non-toxic environment in South-East Asia phase II progress report. https://www.kemi.se/files/96b822bbbfe745deb349438afa289238/progress-report-2015.pdf

Lopez, A. (nd). Change.org petition: Institute a 1 mile buffer zone between schools and spraying pesticides and at least a week’s notice to schools before spraying begins. https://www.change.org/p/institute-a-1-mile-buffer-zone-between-schools-and-spraying-pesicides-and-at-least-a-week-s-notice-to-schools-before-spraying-begins

NTFAAS (nd). Rain of death: A briefer on the ban aerial spraying campaign. http://idisphil.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/rain-of-death.pdf

Owens, K and Feldman, J. 2004. Getting the drift on chemical trespass: Pesticide drift hits homes, schools and other sensitive sites throughout the communities. http://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/infoservices/pesticidesandyou/Summer 04/Getting the Drift on Chemical Trespass.pdf

PANAP. 2016. A pesticide free buffer zone needed in Po Ampil Primary School, Takeo Province, Cambodia. http://panap.net/childrenandpesticide/?p=1552

Po Ampil Primary School, Cambodia (p.69 of the KEMI Report 2015) https://www.kemi.se/files/96b822bbbfe745deb349438afa289238/progress-report-2015.pdf

Poisoned Schoolchildren in Sri Lanka https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/23908082/poisoning-our-future-children-and-pesticides/30

US EPA 735-F-07-003. Pesticides and their impact on children: Key facts and talking points. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-12/documents/pest-impact-hsstaff.pdf

US EPA. 2015. Literature review on neurodevelopmental effects and FQPA safety factor determination for the organophosphate pesticides. http://src.bna.com/d4L

Watts, M. 2013. Poisoning our future: Children and pesticides. PANAP. http://www.panap.net/sites/default/files/Poisoning-Our-Future-Children-and-Pesticides.pdf

A Pesticide Free Buffer Zone Needed in Po Ampil Primary School, Takeo Province, Cambodia

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Po Ampil School, in Takeo Province. Photo by Maran Perianen

“We smelled something bad and ran out of classes. Some of us had headaches, felt like vomiting and felt dizzy” said students of Po Ampil School, Takeo Province, Cambodia. They experienced these symptoms after the field near by their classrooms were sprayed by pesticides. Almost 30 students reported these symptoms. Over the years, school children have been poisoned by pesticides. In 2014, teachers from Po Ampil School approached Keam Makarady of CEDAC to conduct awareness workshops for children, and teachers. Teachers were concerned about dangers of pesticides after attending the No Pesticide Use Week event organized by CEDAC.

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School is surrounded by farms. Photo by Maran Perianen
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Google map of Po Ampil Primary School. CEDAC monitored the pesticides used in various villages in Sambour commune. Pesticides found include chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, lamda-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin, which have been linked to harmful effects on growing children. Children have been reported to be poisoned by pesticides during schooling hours in Po Ampil Primary School which is surrounded by farms. Annex 1 has a full list of pesticides found.

The past two years, No Pesticide Use Week Campaign has been aimed to protect our children from toxic pesticides (POC). Workshops on POC were held at Po Ampil primary school, Takeo province to highlight the impacts of pesticides that were found in the school during the campaign. There were 69 people (30 women) who participated in this event including farmers, students, teacher and local authorities.

Children are more vulnerable to pesticides, as per unit body weight they breathe more air, eat more food and drink more water. Long term impacts of pesticide exposure are linked to childhood cancer, autism, lowering of I.Q and other learning disorders among children.

Children in rural areas are often more vulnerable to the exposure to pesticides as they walk barefoot and are more exposed to pesticides than urban children.

Pesticide poisonings have been a growing concern in Cambodia, where more than 400 children were poisoned by pesticides last year due to contaminated sandwiches.

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Photo: Maran Perianen

“Our school located in Po village, Sambour commune, Traing district, Takeo province. The school is surrounded by paddy fields and rice is harvested three times a year. There are a lot of pest attacks during the cultivation of rice and many types of pesticides are being sprayed to control pest. The use of pesticides has affected the environment, the people and my students as well. My students have reported feeling dizzy, nauseated and some were not well. After the incident, I shared my concerns with the local authorities and the surrounding farmers. As a result, they only spray on Sunday to protect the children during schooling hours.” – Teacher of Po Ampil School. Video Link https://www.facebook.com/pesticidesincambodia/videos?ref=page_internal

Discussion are underway for pesticide free buffer zones in this school among CEDAC and the teachers.

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School children of Po Ampil expressed their concerns about the harmful effects of pesticides during the POC workshop in 2015. Photo by CEDAC.

When local farmers were interviewed by CEDAC and PANAP many of them expressed that they were not aware of other alternatives. One farmers said “We sell our rice Vietnamese wholesalers as they are near to the borders.” High yielding rice varieties grown by the farmers require more chemical fertilizer and pesticides use as they are more prone to pest attacks as compared to local varieties said Keam Makarday.

Many of the famers interviewed said they were also poisoned in various degrees. One farmer had to go all the way to Vietnam to seek medical treatment. New plans are on the way to engage the community in Takeo on agroecology practices to protect the children and environment against pesticides.

Annex 1: List of pesticides sold and used in Takeo
Annex 1: List of pesticides sold and used in Takeo

Table Legends

WHO class 1a : Extremely Hazardous
WHO class 1b : Highly Hazardous
EU R26: very toxic by inhalation (R26) according to EU Directive 67/548 5
Muta (EU 1,2): substances known to be mutagenic to man (category 1) / substances which should be regarded as if they are mutagenic to man (category 2), according to EU Directive 67/548
Repro (EU 1,2): substances known to impair fertility in humans (Category 1) / substances which should be regarded as if they impair fertility in humans and/or substances which should be regarded as if they cause developmental toxicity to humans (category 2), according to EU Directive 67/548
EU EDC= endocrine disruptor
ChE Inh= cholesterase inhibitor

vB: very bio accumulative, according to REACh criteria as listed by FOOTPRINT (BCF>5000)
vP: very persistent, according to REACh criteria as listed by FOOTPRINT (half-life > 60 d in marine – or freshwater of half-life >180 d in marine or freshwater sediment

HHP = listed on highly hazardous pesticide list
T20 = listed on 20 terrible pesticides that are toxic to children