#NoLandNoLife | An appeal to stop killing farmers, Lumad fighting land grabs, and pursue peace to address land issue as cause of conflict in the Philippines

As working closely with farmers and farmworkers’ groups and human rights advocates in the Philippines, we are alarmed by what appears to be an escalation of the attacks against leaders of rural communities fighting for their land and rights.

Since the start of the year, unknown assailants have killed five people already for reasons that could be related to their role in opposing land grabbers in their communities. This translates to one killing per week.

Among those killed are Lumad leaders Venie Diamante (killed on 5 January), Veronico Delamente (20 January), and Renato Anglao (3 February). Lumad pertains to the indigenous people in Mindanao, the country’s southernmost island. Accounts say that the victims are involved in resisting the encroachment on their ancestral lands by a palm oil plantation, a mining firm, and a pineapple plantation.

The two other victims are farmer-leaders Alexander Ceballos (20 January) and Wencislao Pacquiao (25 January). They are both active in opposing schemes by local politicians to seize lands from the farmers, based on reports. Ceballos’s assailants also hit his four-year old niece.

Photo by UMA

Such assaults have been going on for a long time now. Filipino activists and human rights groups pin the blame on the military’s counterinsurgency campaigns for these extrajudicial killings as well as other human rights violations.

Based on our monitoring, from January 2015 up to the present alone, at least 46 Filipino farmers, indigenous people and activists engaged in land struggles and conflicts have been killed already. (See Land & Rights Watch – http://panap.net/2017/01/land-and-rights-watch-20170131-2)

Compounding this is the reported termination recently by the Philippine President, Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, of the peace talks with revolutionary groups represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Mr. Duterte’s decision came at a time when the peace panels are already negotiating key social and economic reforms that aim to address the roots of armed conflict in the country – chief of which is landlessness and poverty in the rural areas.

We share the anxiety of our Filipino friends and fellow advocates of the people’s right to land and resources that this unfortunate development could lead to more atrocities against rural communities, especially those that are resisting land grabbing.

We urge the Duterte administration to seriously look not just into the recent spate of killings of Lumad and farmers but past similar killings as well, immediately make those responsible to account for their crimes, and help end the reign of impunity that has long been gripping the Philippine countryside.

We also join the peace advocates in the Philippines in their appeal to both the Duterte administration and the NDFP not to totally abandon the ongoing peace negotiations. We believe that it provides a useful venue to institute the needed policy reforms that will help address the land issue which fuels rural unrest and the armed conflict. ###

PANAP calls for global governance of hazardous pesticides to protect children beyond 2020

Tomorrow is world cancer day, globally children are exposed to pesticides in their everyday lives. Pesticides have been linked to long-term health impacts including cancer, leukemia and learning disorders.

Now more than ever stricter global mechanisms are needed to regulate pesticides globally. PAN Asia Pacific calls upon SAICM in its intercessional process taking place on the 7th to 9th February, 2017 in Brazil to develop a mechanism for global governance of pesticides and phase-out of highly hazardous pesticides, with special attention to the rights and needs of children.

Sarojeni Rengam, PANAP’s Executive Director said that “Regulatory processes and policies fail to protect children from pesticides due to the lack of political will to question norms and apply the precautionary principle.”

PANAP’s submission to SAICM outlines PAN Asia Pacific’s concern about the impact of hazardous pesticides on children, and the need for greatly improved global governance of pesticides post 2020, to protect the rights of children and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030.

Children in Asia are particularly more vulnerable as their developing bodies are exposed to pesticides near schools, through their diet and their environments.  In many rural areas in Asia, poverty forces children work on farms and plantations. In some cases, children are exposed to pesticide spray drifts from farms and also sprayed on aerially e.g. Philippines.

“Children’s continuous exposure to pesticides is undeniable and unacceptable,” Rengam continues. She noted that numerous cases of child poisoning occur throughout the world but are particularly high in Asia.  She particularly mentioned the events in Cambodia where insecticide-tainted cucumbers caused the mass poisoning of villagers 440 of whom are children as recently as 2015, and at least 27 children in India aged 4 to 12 were fatally poisoned by monocrotophos in 2013.  Monocrotophos, a highly hazardous pesticide is still being sold in India despite WHO warnings to ban the pesticide.

Despite stricter regulations, pesticide residues have been found in food and water in food samples in Asia Pacific.  The insecticides cypermethrin, chlorpyrifos, and diazinon are among those detected in fruits and vegetables from Southeast Asia. These three belong to the list of Terrible Twenty pesticides highly hazardous to children as they cause cancer, endocrine disruption, and neurological disorders among others.

According to Dr Meriel Watts, author of Poisoning our future: Children and Pesticides, “There is still very little understanding of the extent of acute poisoning by pesticides and its chronic impacts on health and the environment.” She added that “The Bhopal, Kasargod and Kamukhaan tragedies have led to the suffering and death of countless men, women and children, and yet, we have not taken extreme measures to prevent its recurrence.” These tragedies are recounted in the PANAP submission.

PANAP brings to fore the existence of double standards in the international trade of pesticides from developed to developing countries. Numerous highly hazardous pesticides, such as paraquat, are produced in and exported from countries that do not allow their use.

This situation is intensified by the lack of resources for prevention and control of pesticides in developing countries and lack of legislation and inspection by governments. Overall, this factor further contributes to the continued impact of pesticides on children’s health and well-being.

Deeppa Ravindran, Pesticide Programme Coordinator of PANAP calls on the SAICM participants to “uphold the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. We at PAN Asia Pacific calls upon SAICM in its intercessional process to develop a mechanism to be adopted by ICCM5 for global governance of pesticides and phase-out of highly hazardous pesticides, with special attention to the rights and needs of children.”

Take Action >>  Join us in taking a stand for children’s health

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, sarojeni.rengam@panap.net

#NoLandNoLife | PANAP joins solidarity mission vs. land grabbing, repression of farmers in Philippine banana plantation

Press Statement

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) joined a solidarity and fact finding mission for farmers and farm workers engaged in a land dispute against Lapanday Foods Corp., one of the Philippines’ largest banana plantation operators in Madaum village, Tagum City in Mindanao on 15 December.

In the past week, 10 people have been reportedly wounded in three separate shooting incidents as Lapanday security personnel tried to take down the camp out of farmers and farm workers asserting their rightful claim to 145 hectares of land grabbed by the company.

“We are deeply alarmed that these cases of violence seem to be committed by the alleged security people of Lapanday boldy and without fear of being held liable. We went here to let the farmers know that many groups, including those outside Mindanao and the Philippines, are supporting them. We join in the call for justice and accountability. We join in the call that the rightful claim of the farmers to their land be respected,” said Deeppa Ravindran, a program coordinator for PANAP, during the solidarity mission in Madaum.

PANAP also found out that aside from bullets, Lapanday also allegedly used toxic agrochemicals to drive away the protesting farmers. On the morning of 12 December, a Lapanday plane sprayed pesticide twice in the direction of farmers and their children who were having breakfast then. The aerial spraying “hurt their eyes and nose”, said one farmer.

“Pesticides, of course, have other long-term health impacts, including cancer and learning disorder, with children the most vulnerable. This is outrageous and enraging. Is Lapanday also using poisonous pesticides against the farmers and their innocent children? Someone should be made accountable here and we call on the authorities for a prompt and impartial probe,” Ravindran emphasized.

According to PANAP partners Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) and the Union of Agricultural Workers (UMA), the plantation’s workers had been picketing in front of the Lapanday gate for the past seven months and decided to reclaim the 145-hectare land with support from other farmers’ groups last 9 December. The said land has already been awarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to 159 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs).

Based on initial accounts, seven of those wounded were from the shooting incident on 14 December while three were hurt on a separate incident on 12 December. The first shooting incident happened on 9 December, the first day of the camp out, but no one was reported injured.

In a statement on International Human Rights Day (10 December), PANAP revealed that almost 16 farmers, indigenous people, and advocates of the people’s right to land were being killed every month this year – or three times the average in 2015 – in Asia Pacific and other regions. The data cover incidents that occurred in the Philippines. ###

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, nolandnolife@panap.net

Killings of defenders of people’s right to land, three times worse in 2016 – PANAP

PENANG, Malaysia – Advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) today said that the attacks against defenders of the people’s right to land and resources continued to intensify and worsened to even more alarming levels in 2016.

An average of almost 16 farmers, indigenous people, and advocates of the people’s right to land were being killed every month this year – or three times the average in 2015 – in Asia Pacific and other regions, the group claimed.

PANAP made the statement as the world marks the International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

“The sharp rise in the number of killings and the overall increase in human rights atrocities against poor rural communities embroiled in land conflicts is alarming, to say the least. It underscores the impunity with which these political killings and brutalities are being committed,” said Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, PANAP executive director.

In 2015, PANAP monitored 61 victims of killings that ballooned to 171 from January to November 2016. There were also 32 victims of frustrated killings, adding up to the 54 victims last year. Meanwhile, the victims of arbitrary detention from January to November this year numbered 118 and trumped up charges, 14; in 2015, the figures were 127 and 82 victims, respectively.

The trend in worsening killings noted by PANAP is consistent with the data compiled by UK-based campaign group Global Witness, which has been tracking the killings of environmental and land activists since 2002. Global Witness reported that in the past 13 years there have been 1,209 killings of land and environmental activists worldwide. The trend has worsened with the average killings per year more than doubling from 55 annually in 2002 to 2009 to 128 in 2010 to 2015. Last year was the worst year, said Global Witness, with killings recorded at 185.

“These human rights violations represent double repression. The people’s collective rights to own or control their land and resources for livelihood and cultural needs are wantonly being violated by corporations and governments. When these people rightfully resist and defend their rights, they are harassed and in many cases, killed,” Rengam said.

PANAP’s data are based on its Land & Rights (L&R) Watch initiative, which monitors various cases of human rights violations against farmers, indigenous people, and advocates of the right to land and resources. L&R Watch started compiling data based on online reports and reports from PANAP partners in the region in January 2015 and is an ongoing effort. The latest data are as of end-November 2016.

Land grabs to intensify

PANAP expressed concern that the atrocities will not just continue but will even further intensify as recent global and regional trends and developments are fanning social conflicts in the countryside between rural communities and governments and profit-seeking corporations and local elites. The onslaught to monopolize land and resources for private profits – and massively displace peasant and indigenous communities, in the process – has intensified more than ever.

“One particular trend that should be closely watched in relation to our campaign against land grabbing in the region is the steady rise of China as an economic giant and the consequent surge in its appetite for more land and resources to feed its economy,” said Rengam.

PANAP noted that China has been leading the efforts to push for more trade and investment liberalization through its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), especially with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) expected to slow down under a Trump administration in the US.

China is also aggressively funding infrastructure development projects that stir land conflicts such as its ambitious trillion-dollar modern “Silk Road” covering about 60 countries. Public-private partnership (PPP) to build infrastructure that lead to massive displacement of rural folks will get a boost as well with the recently established China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), along with the usual PPP funders like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In a recent meeting with peasant and indigenous leaders and campaigners from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, PANAP learned of the increasing Chinese presence or involvement in various development projects such as in economic zones, plantations, eco-tourism, and others that displaced or are feared to displace numerous rural communities.

Greater vigilance, resistance and support

“Now more than ever, we need greater vigilance and resistance to protect and advance the people’s collective right to land and resources. We must generate broader support for the peasant and indigenous communities that are fighting back as those who want to take away their farm and ancestral lands for profit become more and bigger,” Rengam emphasized.

The PANAP official pointed out that while China is emerging as a new formidable foe, the usual powerful forces and players remain such as the local elite and corrupt politicians, and the corporations and financial institutions from the West.

“It’s good that the theme for this year (of the International Human Rights Day) is to stand up for someone’s rights. It’s a call for everyone who believe in what is just and democratic to stand up for the landless and join the movement to defend the people’s rights,” said Rengam. ###

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, nolandnolife@panap.net

Free detained land activists and all political prisoners in the Philippines

PENANG, Malaysia – Consistent with our advocacy to defend and promote human rights – including the people’s right to land – we support our friends and allies in the Philippines as they call on their national government to immediately release all political prisoners.

amnestynowph-manilaAs noted by one of our partners, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), majority of these political detainees “are farmers and land reform advocates who were arrested, charged with fabricated cases and jailed because of their struggle for land and democratic rights”.

We believe that the appeal for their release through a general amnesty is a fair and legitimate demand. Their prolonged detention is a form of continuing repression, aggravated by the fact that their imprisonment was caused by merely asserting their rightful claim to land and rights, and standing up for what is just.

We also note the urgency of the call as bitterly demonstrated by the recent death of peasant political prisoner Bernabe Ocasla due to cardiac arrest and lack of proper medical attention because of his continued detention. Twelve other political prisoners have already died under similar circumstances since 2010.

amnestynowph-penangThe criminalization of the struggle for land of peasants and indigenous people is a scheme that is prevalent not only in the Philippines but also in the region. Along with other forms of human rights violations, the filing of trumped up charges and detention of land rights activists and members of local communities are happening as well in other countries.

But Filipino activists, including those who are involved in land struggles, are among who suffer most from the filing of fabricated cases. Based on our monitoring, 19 Filipino farmers, indigenous people, and land activists have been filed with trumped up charges in the last two years alone. That’s almost 20% of the total number of victims of trumped charges related to land struggles and conflicts that we have monitored in Asia Pacific and other regions during the said period.

We respectfully urge the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte to heed the people’s appeal for the release of all political prisoners. We hope that like the theme of this year’s International Human Rights Day on 10 December, Mr. Duterte will stand up for the rights of Filipino political prisoners who did not commit any crime but merely served and fought for the poor and landless. ###

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific, Executive Director, nolandnolife@panap.net

#NoLandNoLife #AmnestyNowPH

Support and sign the online petition by Pilgrims for Peace, Release Political Prisoners in the Philippines: Support the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks! You may access the petition through: https://www.change.org/p/release-political-prisoners-in-the-philippines-support-the-grp-ndfp-peace-talks.

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.

16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources mobilise farmers and small food producers, rural women, fisherfolk, agri workers, advocates across the globe

With the theme “Defend Food Sovereignty! Strengthen Community Resilience amid Climate Crisis,” the 16 days of global action on land and resources successfully reached out to more than 380,000 people across the globe, with more than 200 partners and network groups in 18 countries in Asia, Pacific, Africa and Latin America. (click here to see photos of the activities)

Same goals, diverse strategies

Through a 16-day series of collective actions under PANAP’s Save Our Rice Campaign: Save Our Rice Campaign: Strengthening Rice Biodiversity –Based Ecological Agriculture (BEA), Safe Food and Community Resilience in the Face of Climate Change, the globally-coordinated campaign which kicked-off on September 30, ran from October 1-16, 2016 and culminated on Rural Women’s Day (15 Oct) and World Food(less) Day (16 Oct). Its aims were: (1) To raise awareness to the public on the impact of food and climate crises, particularly highlighting specific impacts of land and resource grabbing to farming communities and movements; (2)To generate solidarity in the struggle to defend collective rights to land and resources and mobilise people to be involved in the people’s resistance against corporate agriculture, land grabbing and all forms of repression; (3) To gather broader support and promote people’s initiatives, particularly of small food producers and farming communities on food sovereignty and agroecology as an alternative to corporate agriculture and (4) To forward farmers’ and rural women’s agenda and demands for food sovereignty at the national and global platforms.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources saw the diverse forms of collective action by the partner groups- from the forums, discussions, dialogues with government agencies and workshops to militant mobilisations, rallies and pickets to creative forms such as poster designs, handicrafts and theatre performances.

In Southeast Asia, CEDAC and Mekong Youth Alliance for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (YOF) facilitated a youth exchange programme attended by rural youth from Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Myanmar. The programme included on the job training on organic farming and experience sharing. CEDAC also organised farmers’ markets in 5 provinces which highlight the important role of agroecology in providing healthy food, sustainable agriculture and environment. The group also organised a radio talk show tackling climate change adaptation of women farmers which reached out at least 10,000 listeners. In Malaysia, a forum on land and food sovereignty was facilitated by North-South Initiatives among rural youth and indigenous people. In China, ECO-WOMEN collected climate-friendly farming technologies and methods aimed at raising people’s awareness and encourage them to practice these methods. ECO-WOMEN also designed and exhibited in three villages, five posters portraying different climate-friendly farming technologies. Sustainable Development Foundation or SDF based in Thailand, campaigned against ocean grabbing and for food security. A documentary showcasing communities’ resistance against ocean and resources grabbing was produced. In the Philippines, educational exchanges and immersions among peasants and students were conducted by National Network of Agrarian Reforms Advocates-Youth (NNARA-Youth) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines). Sinagbayan staged in different locations an original theatre production about sugar cane workers’ plights in Southern Philippines while AMIHAN (National Federation of Rural Women) mobilised rural women and advocates through several activities including a rally in commemoration of Rural Women’s Day (RWD). In Indonesia, Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (SERUNI) facilitated a cultural campaign and discussion on food sovereignty while Gita Pertiwi Ecological Studies Programme conducted public campaign on the impact of pesticides on food, collectively harvested rice seeds, utilised well-known games in showcasing climate change, food sovereignty and pesticides impacts on food. Farmers group AGRA conducted several activities for the RWD and World Hunger Day such as discussions, agrarian camps and mobilizations. In Vietnam, Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) organized farmers’ markets to introduce agroecology products of women pioneer groups while Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) conducted workshops on agroecological livelihood.

In South Asia, discussions, trainings, forums, public meetings and rallies were organized. In Pakistan, KHOJ Society for People’s Education gathered rural women to discuss and advance advocacy on their rights. Roots for Equity on the other hand, organized women’s assembly, press conferences and rallies for RWD and World Hunger Day. In India, Thanal conducted a workshop on ‘Food security and the Changing Climate.’ Farming and food sovereignty, Ecological Agriculture, Biodiversity and food security, Farming and water resources, changes in food habit over the past decades, were the topics addressed in the workshop. The group also conducted awareness-raising activity tackling climate change and agriculture vulnerability, biodiversity, food sovereignty, agroecology and land as a productive resource. Youth participants created their own advocacy posters after the activity. NISARGA focused on awareness-building on Bio diversity Based Ecological Agriculture and  impact of  climate change on the lives of rural communities with special focus on agriculture workers, Dalits,  women & marginal farmers. Their activities reaching out to 150,000 population included simultaneous village meetings in six mandals (administrative division), school meetings and rallies. On the other hand, KUDUMBAM organised “Documenting climate resilient technologies involving village youth.” It was a programme for rural university students at Kolunji Ecological farm and training center, Odugampatti, Pudukottai district of  Tamil Nadu.  The programme organized for rural university students and lead farmers from 15 villages of six panchayats (village councils). Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum (TNWF) conducted village level campaigns utilising public meeting, seminar and workshop, and mobilised people for the World Foodless Day and Rural Women’s Day rallies. Their campaign tackled issues of land grabbing, protection of land and resources and food sovereignty. They were able to reach out to more than 10,000 people. In Bangladesh, SHISUK gathered rural women and farmers in different venues to highlight the calls of the 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources.  BARCIK, on the other hand, organised an event recognising farmers and farmers leaders “for their tireless effort in food production and keeping nation’s development wheel moving forward.” In the said program, farmers from different agro-ecological zones depicted their challenges in food production. Apart from these, farming experience, and initiatives were shared and described on how they produce despite all adversities. In Sri Lanka, Savisthri (Women in Development Alternatives) Movement held a weekly fair of organic food production aimed at highlighting food security and food sovereignty while Vikalpani National Women’s Federation also conducted activities forwarding the calls of the campaign.

Partner groups in Central Asia designed various artistic and popular campaign activities. In Kyrgyztan, Alga mobilised rural women, farmers and professionals in eight Raions (Districts) reaching out to 1,300 individuals. Meetings, a song festival and handicraft-making depicting issues of rural women were organised. In Mongolia, CHRD organised meetings in universities on the occasion of World Foodless Day and Rural Women’s Day for awareness-raising among students on impacts of pesticide and climate change and Organised a press conference on the World Foodless Day and Rural Women’s Day. The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty-Mongolia chapter organised gatherings to highlight call for food justice.

In the Pacific, femLINKpacific Media Initiatives for Women of Fiji organised rural women’s meeting in District level and led a national consultation of rural women and civil society advocating for women’s participation in disaster response planning and management. For the said activities, femLINKpacific was able to reach out to 10058 individuals.

In Africa, PAN-Ethiopia and PAN-Africa were the partner organisations. In Ethiopia, PAN Nexus continued its facilitation of dialogue between women farmer representatives and local government agriculture officials with the aim of assessing the change after last year’s presentation of women farmers’ problems and demands. In Senegal, Africa, PAN Africa organized a meeting to inform women’s farmers about agroecology, alternatives on pesticides and climate crisis and produced radio programs that reached out to 120,000 individuals. FAHAMU in Kenya also participated.

In Latin America, Instituto Politécnico Tomás Katari (IPTK) and PCFS in Bolivia conducted a workshop with kids, teachers and parents’ about the Right to Food, Food Injustice, Roots of Hunger and Genetically Modified Organisms. IPTK and PCFS also launched some of the educational materials they produced.

Regional group People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) on the other hand, led Representatives from social movements in Senegal on a workshop on Food Injustice and Repression who all agreed to set up a coalition on food sovereignty. The group also led the global day of action against food injustice and repression on 12 October.

Narratives from the ground: collective action impacts communities

With the diverse activities and massive outreach, it is therefore expected that the 16 days of global action has impacted the people from the grounds.

In Southeast Asia, very noteworthy are those from Cambodia, China and Vietnam.

In Cambodia, the different activities conducted by CEDAC has mostly highlighted the important role that rural women play as food producers. The farmers’ markets and agroecology workshops for instance, reaffirmed the commitment of women farmers to agroecology such as Ms. Mi Thim from Kampong Chhnang. She said, “Women farmers are very patient and have high commitment to do organic farming as it is not as easy as conventional practice. But we are happy in doing it as it makes us living in a healthy environment, earning good income and having nutritious foods.”  For ECO-WOMEN of China, the impact of the 16 Days of Global Action is that key women leaders realised that climate-friendly, traditional agriculture techniques and methods can reduce farmland soil erosion, protect farmland ecological environment, and obtain ecological and economic benefits.

In Vietnam, CGFED’s farmers market has brought together female farmers’ groups of the three communes of Hai Son, Hai Cuong and Hai Xuan. The groups were able to share experiences and ideas and the way they produce safe and healthy food. Furthermore, through the farmers market, the farmers from the said communes were able to gain the attention and support of local authorities in the promotion of agroecology and elimination of hazardous pesticides in their farms.

In South Asia, empowerment of marginalised communities was highlighted. In India for instance, the activities organised by NISARGA boosted the confidence of the communities on their strength to assert their rights, while the youth displayed interest to continue the campaign against drought and climate change. On the other hand, Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum, through the different strategies, was able to convince the government to temporarily halt their order to confiscate 1300 acres of land that were given to 120 landless Dalit farmers.

In Central Asia, it is important to note the impact of the campaign to the women in Kyrgyztan. Through the different creative activities facilitated by Alga, rural women reaffirm their role as empowered members of the society. They claim their part in the fight against climate change: “We, rural women, first persons to fight against climate change, to survive climate crises. We are the basis for development. That’s why we want policymakers to listen to us!”

In the Pacific, women power was the order of the day, as well. Fiji women say that, through the different consultations facilitated by femLINKpacific, they have learned to act upon policies, conventions and issues at hand. For instance, Mareta, a representative of a vendors association says, “these opportunities have given me a lot of courage and educated me to stand and speak up for myself…” while Vani Tuvuki of Koronubu Resettlement in Ba stated that they have gone through a lot of awareness and now know “the importance of women in the community.”

In Africa, women leaders were capacitated further. In Ethiopia, women cotton farmers who have been working with PAN-Ethiopia in reducing pesticides use formed associations. PAN-Ethiopia continuously facilitates capacity-building training and discussions that help the women farmers in their incomes. In Senegal, the campaign has been instrumental in making communities aware of the intertwining issues of pesticides use, climate change, the promotion of food sovereignty and agroecology.

Effective platform for agroecology advocacy

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources also gathered support signatures for the International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. At least four thousand signatures were gathered by the partners while 21 groups signed up on the online petition. PANAP executive director Sarojeni Rengam hosted an event at the tribunal’s ‘Peoples Assembly’ to share findings from the newly released Glyphosate Monograph, a “state of the science” review presenting a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides.

The 16 Days campaign also launched “Stories from the field: women working towards a non-toxic environment,” a booklet contains a collection of stories of 25 women from five countries who are involved in an inspiring, ongoing campaign to eliminate use of chemical pesticides and promote agroecology in the Mekong Region.

The momentum garnered by the 1st 16 Days of Global Action in 2015 definitely helped build this year’s success. With how far and wide it has reached out to this year, the 16 Days of Global Action proves to be an effective platform and should continue to be, if not more so, for the next years as the need to strengthen the communities’ fights will become stronger. ###

 

PAN International To Give Evidence In The Hague At The Monsanto Tribunal And Contribute “State Of The Science” On Glyphosate To The Peoples Assembly

Between October the 14-15th 2016, Monsanto will be put on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Specific charges include human rights abuses and ecocide, the large-scale destruction of the environment, as part of an international tribunal targeting the agro-chemical corporation.

This is a moral tribunal1, organized by civil society groups to protest the lack of available legal tools to hold Monsanto accountable for its actions. The Tribunal will assess specific allegations of harm made against Monsanto, as well as the human health and environmental damage caused by the company throughout its history. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims and experts, including PAN Internationals’ Dr. Peter Clausing, Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam and Mr Francois Veillerette. The panel of judges will deliver an advisory opinion following International Criminal Court Procedures. Monsanto representatives have been invited to attend.

The Tribunal also builds on the findings of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT)2, held five years ago in Bangalore, India and organized by PAN International.3

Dr Peter Clausing, from PAN Germany, will be giving evidence (4) (5) at the International Peoples Tribunal on the arguments regulatory agencies (BfR, EFS) used to deny the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. He will present on Sunday, 16 October 2016 from 12:30 to 13:00 during the Hearing on “Pressures on stakeholders and institutions.”

Mr Francois Veillerette, from PAN Europe will be speaking at The Peoples Assembly6 on the 14th of Octoberbetween 14.30-16.00 as part of the “Poisoning Life” workshop. They will be will be speaking about “pesticides in people: a widespread contamination that threatens the health of present and future generations

Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, from PAN Asia & the Pacific on behalf of PAN International will be hosting an event at The Wintergarden of The Peoples Assembly on Saturday 15th October at 12:45 to share findings from the newly released Glyphosate Monograph7, a “state of the science” review presenting a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides. The review underscores the need for a global phase-out and has been welcomed by environmental and health advocates as a wake up call for regulators, governments and users around the world.

Ms Angeliki Lysimachou, from PAN Europe and Mr Koen Hertoge, from PAN Italy, will be moderating the workshop B series9 on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th at the Peoples’ Assembly on ‘Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals: How to ban them’

Quotes

Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, Director PAN Asia & the Pacific
“The poisoning of people and the environment is still going on as highly hazardous pesticides such as glyphosate are being produced and marketed by corporations like Monsanto. This is even in the face of the classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.”

“The PPT on agrochemical TNCs and now the Monsanto Tribunal are marks of an escalated international people’s movement against agrochemical TNCs and to stop these corporations from violating the human rights of people, particularly children and marginalized communities,”

Dr Peter Clausing, PAN Germany
“Proper evaluation of the evidence provided by EFSA and ECHA in their own documents, inevitably leads to the conclusion that glyphosate is carcinogenic in experimental animals, warranting a Category 1B carcinogenicity labelling of glyphosate in accordance with the European CLH categories.”

Keith Tyrell, PAN UK
”For far too long Monsanto, and the rest of the agrochemical industry, have been allowed a free hand to poison the planet for their own profits. It is clear that politicians and regulators around the world are not prepared to step in and hold them responsible so it is up to us, the people, to hold them to account. We hope that this tribunal will shine a light on the harmful activities of Monsanto and the destruction their pesticides cause to people and planet and that it will provoke and embolden those that are charged with ensuring the health of this world into finally taking action against them”.

Judy Hatcher, Director PAN North America
“Monsanto has been reaping profits at the expense of farmers and communities across the globe for much too long. Its GE/pesticide packages epitomize the failures of industrial agriculture, keeping farmers trapped on a pesticide treadmill that only benefits Monsanto’s bottom line.

“From Iowa to Argentina, this corporation’s products and practices have put the health and livelihood of farmers and communities at risk for too long. The Tribunal offers an important opportunity to spotlight these harms on a global stage.”

Supporting Documents

1Information on The Tribunal http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/main.php?obj_id=281601562

2 PPT Indictment and Verdict http://pan-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Peoples_Tribunal_on_agrochemical_TNCs_-_indictment_and_verdict.pdf

3 Press Release From PAN-AP http://panap.net/childrenandpesticide/?p=1509

4 The 31 August 2015 Addendum to the Renewal Assessment Report on Glyphosate – A critical analysis http://www.pan-germany.org/download/PAN_Germany_Addendum_analysis_09112015.pdf

5 PAN Germany: Comments on ECHA’s CLH – Report regarding Carcinogenicity http://www.pan-germany.org/download/PAN_Germany_Comment_on_CLH-Report_regarding_Carcinogenicity_1607.pdf

6 International Monsanto Tribunal Program http://monsantotribunal.org/upload/asset_cache/927751509.pdf

7 The Peoples Assembly program http://monsantotribunal.org/upload/asset_cache/248685559.pdf

8 Glyphosate Monograph http://pan-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Glyphosate-monograph.pdf

9 Peoples’ Assembly Workshop Details http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/upload/asset_cache/806133264.pdf

For more information please contact:

Keith Tyrell, PAN UK: +44 (0) 7588706224: keith@pan-uk.org

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany: +49 (0) 176-7801 2705, peter.clausing@pan-germany.org

Sarojeni V. Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific: +60124789545, sarojeni.rengam@panap.net

Angeliki Lyssimachou, PAN Europe, +32 2-318-6255, Angeliki@pan-europe.info

Paul Towers, PAN North America, +1 916-216-1082, paul@panna.org

Comprehensive New Review Of Monsanto’s Glyphosate Underscores Urgent Need For Global Action

In a “state of the science” review released today, PAN International presents a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides and underscores the need for a global phase-out. Environmental and health advocates say the monograph on the world’s most widely used herbicide, commonly known by its original trade name Roundup, should serve as a wake up call for regulators, governments and users around the world.

Adverse human impacts detailed in the review include acute poisoning, kidney and liver damage, imbalances in the intestinal microbiome and intestinal functioning, cancer, genotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental reduction, neurological damage, and immune system dysfunction. The full Monograph review can be accessed here http://www.panap.net/sites/default/files/Glyphosate-monograph.pdf

glyphosate-monograph-cover

Aggressive public relations and marketing by glyphosate’s developer, Monsanto, has resulted in the widespread perception that the chemical is ‘safe’. Registration processes continue to allow its use without raising concerns about its safety even as new data identifying adverse effects emerge.

Dr Meriel Watts, PAN New Zealand and one of the authors of the monograph said, “The time has come for global recognition of the widespread harm caused to people and the environment from the constant use of glyphosate. For too long regulators have ignored the mounting evidence of damage, hiding behind unpublished studies by Monsanto, which not surprisingly paint a picture of a benign chemical startlingly at odds with reality.”

This review dispels this myth of ‘safety’ and highlights the urgent need to re-examine the authorization of products containing glyphosate. A full chemical profile is presented, along with the regulatory status of products containing glyphosate in many countries and information on viable alternatives.

Sarojeni V. Rengam, PAN Asia and the Pacific said that, “Glyphosate is a highly hazardous pesticide. There are other ecosystem based non-chemical alternatives that do not require the use of such hazardous herbicides. We therefore urge Monsanto and other agrochemical corporations to stop the production and marketing of glyphosate in order to ensure the health of people and the environment.”

Glyphosate is included in PAN International’s “List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides” (1) targeted for global phaseout. The global network is calling for the herbicide to be replaced by agroecological approaches to weed management in diversified cropping systems and non-crop situations.

Glyphosate is sprayed on numerous crops and plantations, including about 80% of genetically engineered, or GE crops, as well as a pre-harvest desiccant, which results in high food residues. It is also widely used in home gardens and public places including roadsides, and semi-natural and natural habitats. Due to its widespread use residues are now detected in different types of foods, drinking water, wine and beer; and even in non-food products derived from GM cotton. The extent of human exposure is confirmed by the presence of glyphosate in human urine wherever it has been tested, principally in Europe and North America; it has also been found in breast milk in the USA.

The 2015 classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen resulted in widespread concern about its continued use, especially pre-harvest and in public places.

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany said “In 2017 the European Chemicals Agency has to decide whether it accepts the compelling evidence for glyphosate’s carcinogenicity and declares it a carcinogen. This would be an overdue acknowledgement of the reality.”

As a result, national bans and restrictions, and voluntary action by local authorities and retailers to curb use are rising dramatically. Sri Lanka was the first country to ban it completely, although the ban has recently been relaxed to allow use in tea plantations; Italy has banned pre-harvest use, and all use in public places and those frequented by children and the elderly; France is phasing out the use of pesticides in towns and public areas; and the European Union has extended approval for glyphosate for only 18 months instead of the usual 15 years. The research and evidence detailed in the review released today provides valuable scientific evidence for all communities wanting to follow these leads.

Environmental impacts detailed in the monograph are no less concerning, and include adverse effects on ecosystem functioning, pollination services, biological controls, soil fertility and crop health. Residues are widespread in the environment, including in rainwater, surface and ground waters, and the marine environment. Glyphosate can persist in some soils for up to 3 years; and there is some evidence of bioaccumulation.

Dr. Emily Marquez, staff scientist, PAN North America said, “The glyphosate mess illustrates the problems with industrial agriculture. Farmers are again trapped on a pesticide treadmill, as widespread adoption of Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Roundup-Ready” crops resulted in glyphosate-resistant superweeds. And yet again, human health impacts of the chemical come to light after years of widespread use. It’s time to shift away from this failing cycle of chemical reliance.”

Resistance to glyphosate is now recorded in 35 weed species and in 27 countries, mostly caused by the repeated use of glyphosate in GE crops, no-till agriculture, and amenity use.

The monograph also contains a useful section on alternative weed management and provides information on a wide variety of non-chemical approaches to weed management in various situations.

Supporting Documents:

(1)  PAN International’s “List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides”, http://www.pan-germany.org/download/PAN_HHP_List_150602_F.pdf

For more information please contact:

Dr Meriel Watts, PAN New Zealand: +64-21-1807830; merielwatts@xtra.co.nz

Keith Tyrell, PAN-UK: +44 (0) 7588706224: keith@pan-uk.org

Paul Towers, PAN North America: 915-216-1082, paul@panna.org

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany: +49 (0) 176-7801 2705, peter.clausing@pan-germany.org

People’s Verdict Vs. Agrochem TNCs Revisited As Monsanto Tribunal Nears

PENANG, Malaysia – Five years ago the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) found Monsanto and five other giant agrochemical companies guilty of “gross, widespread and systematic violations of the right to health and life, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as of civil and political rights, and women and children’s rights.”

On 6 December 2011, the PPT, an opinion tribunal that looks into complaints of human rights violations, issued a landmark verdict upholding the charges made by affected communities against Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow Chemical, DuPont and BASF.

Convened in Bangalore, India and organized by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International the PPT said that the world’s then six largest agrochemical transnational corporations (TNCs) are responsible for violation of indigenous peoples’ human rights, and further found that “their systematic acts of corporate governance have caused avoidable catastrophic risks, increasing the prospects of extinction of biodiversity, including species whose continued existence is necessary for reproduction of human life.”

“It is important to revisit the historic PPT verdict as we prepare for the Monsanto Tribunal. The evidence presented against Monsanto and other agrochem TNCs remain valid today,” PANAP executive director Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam said.

(See the indictment and PPT verdict here.)

According to its organizers, the Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for ecocide. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims, and deliver an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice. The Tribunal will take place from 14 to 16 October 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands.

“The poisoning of people and the environment is still going on as highly hazardous pesticides such as glyphosate are being produced and marketed by corporations like Monsanto. This is even in the face of the classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen,” added Ms. Rengam.

One of the tragic cases heard by the PPT in 2011 was the death of eleven-year old Paraguayan Silvino Talavera, who died on January 2003 because of exposure to glyphosate (Round-up Ready) being applied to Monsanto’s genetically engineered RR soybeans.

“We have proof that there was poison in his blood. We are trying to hold Monsanto accountable for the death of my son from pesticide poisoning,” his mother, Petrona Villasboa, then said during the PPT hearings.

Ms. Rengam said that until today, glyphosate is being used and children continue to be exposed and vulnerable to glyphosate poisoning.

“The PPT on agrochemical TNCs and now the Monsanto Tribunal are marks of an escalated international people’s movement against agrochemical TNCs and to stop these corporations from violating the human rights of people, particularly children and marginalized communities,” said Ms. Rengam.

The PANAP official also noted that another significant development is the push in the UN for a binding international treaty on TNCs and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. An intergovernmental working group has already been set up to elaborate on the said proposed international legally binding instrument that would regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of TNCs and other business enterprises.

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