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

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

Monsanto A Culprit In Global Food And Climate Crises: Support For The International Monsanto Tribunal!

We, individuals and representatives of various people’s and civil society organisations fully support the International Monsanto Tribunal, which will be held in The Hague, Netherlands from 14 to 16 October 2016.

tribunal-monsanto

Following procedures of the International Court of Justice, the Tribunal will hold Monsanto accountable for human rights and environmental violations. We believe that such an initiative, supported through international solidarity, will be a crucial step towards corporate accountability and achieving justice for Monsanto’s victims worldwide. It is apparent that Monsanto’s vast monopoly control over seeds and chemical inputs has put millions of food producers and rural peoples under a web of suffering and exploitation. Their most basic rights to health and life—as well as economic, social, and cultural rights—are needlessly violated. This was no less than the indictment of a Permanent People’s Tribunal on Agrochemical TNCs, held in 2011 at Bangalore, India, wherein Monsanto was one of the six agrochemical TNCs found guilty of “gross, widespread and systematic violations,” based on testimonies by victims and health and environmental scientists.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Monsanto, a US-based transnational corporation (TNC), has developed and marketed highly toxic pesticides that were proven to have permanently damaged the environment and killed or caused the illnesses of thousands of people including children.

The most hazardous of these products include the Persistent Organic Pollutant PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls); the Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange; and Round-Up, a glyphosate herbicide used widely in combination with genetically modified (GM) seeds. Monsanto’s Round-Up is a probable carcinogen classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and yet the use of Round-Up has increased tremendously due to the aggressive public relations and marketing efforts by Monsanto.  Victims of acute and chronic poisoning from these and other toxic chemicals have not been acknowledged or compensated by Monsanto. Their numbers also continue to grow on a daily basis.

Together with the world’s largest agrochemical TNCs, Monsanto has for the past decades aggressively shaped and promoted an agro-industrial model that is estimated to contribute around one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, further aggravating the climate crisis. This input-intensive model has depleted soil and water resources, degraded the environment, and destroyed biodiversity on a global scale.

Increasingly, Monsanto creates large-scale monocultures of GM crops dedicated to animal feed and biofuels, further endangering food security, displacing small food producers, and contributing to the rapid loss of traditional seeds and varieties. Food sovereignty, especially of rural women who have been seed savers and keepers for generations, is greatly undermined.

Monsanto has profited immensely from patenting life forms and placing additional economic burdens on farmers. In India, for instance, 95 percent of cotton is grown using Monsanto’s technology; in these same cotton fields, thousands of farmers end their own life because Monsanto’s BT cotton did not perform as promised, leaving the farmers in debt. Elsewhere, farmers also have to pay increasing royalties and fines demanded by Monsanto, who have enlisted governments in monitoring—and profiteering from—the use of their technology.

As the global food and climate crises worsens, as do poverty and hunger among the world’s food producers and rural peoples, it becomes even more pressing that, as an international community, we call out one of the biggest corporation and make them accountable to these violations. We believe that without a stronger and more united push for corporate accountability, Monsanto will continue to get away with these violations at the expense of future generations.

Support the International Monsanto Tribunal!  Sign the petition:

If you are signing on as an organization – http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/sign-org

If you are signing on as an individual – http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/sign

 

Defend Food Sovereignty! Fight for Climate Justice!

Resist Corporate Takeover on Agriculture!

Push for Corporate Accountability!

 

 

Signatories:

 

Regional/International NGOs

PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP)

People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)

Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)

 

CAMBODIA

Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC)

 

CHINA

Eco-Women

 

INDONESIA

Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (SERUNI)

GITA PERTIWI Ecological Studies Programme

 

MALAYSIA

North South Initiative (NSI)

 

PHILIPPINES

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas/Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP)

National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN)

Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan (SINAGBAYAN)

National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates – Youth (NNARA-YOUTH)

 

THAILAND

Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF)

Alternative Agriculture Network (AAN)

 

VIETNAM

Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED)

Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD)

 

FIJI

femLINKPacific Media Initiatives for Women (femLINKPACIFIC)

 

BANGLADESH
Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK)

 

INDIA

SAHANIVASA

NISARGA

THANAL

KUDUMBAM

Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED)

Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum (TNWF)

 

SRI LANKA

Vikalpani National Women’s Federation

Savisthri (Women in Development Alternatives) Movement

 

PAKISTAN

KHOJ Society for People’s Education

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

ROOTS for Equity

 

KYRGYZTAN

Alga

 

MONGOLIA

Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)

Peoples’ Coalition for Food Sovereignty – Mongolia Chapter

 

SENEGAL

PAN Africa

 

ETHIOPIA

Pesticide Action Nexus Association, PAN-Ethiopia

 

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The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources, supports the Monsanto Tribunal on 14-16 October in The Hague, Netherlands. The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources is a series of collective action of 31 organisations of farmers, women and other advocacy groups from 19 countries. It will culminate on 15 and 16 October.

12th Chemical Review Committee Of The Rotterdam Convention Fails To Make Sufficient Progress On Atrazine

Blog by Dr. Meriel Watts

(Rome) – The technical committee of the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) in the Trade of Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides met in Rome from Sept 14th to 16th, to consider notification of final regulatory action on several pesticides and industrial chemicals. Notable amongst these was the reconsideration of notification from the EU and 8 West African countries of their bans of the herbicide atrazine, which stalled at the meeting last year. And it stalled again this year. Unsurprisingly politics seem to be playing a part in this process as suddenly a higher standard of risk evaluation is required for this widely used herbicide to progress through the listing process than has been seen for other chemicals. Some countries have particularly targeted the decision making process in the EU where atrazine was banned because of its presence in drinking water but no assessment of adverse effects on people was carried out. The non-party observer USA even tried to stop the Committee considering atrazine again. However, PAN AP’s Meriel Watts was able to get the committee to progress discussion at this meeting despite reluctance from a number of committee members to do so.

On a brighter note, the proposal to list a severely hazardous pesticide formulation of carbofuran containing 330 gm active ingredient per litre was successful – Colombia had proposed this formulation after finding that 95% of people poisoned by carbofuran were poisoned with this formulation. Of 699 cases of pesticide poisoning recorded between 2011 and 203, 408 were caused by carbofuran. Draft Decision Guidance Documents for the active ingredients carbosulfan and carbofuran were also agreed and will be forwarded to the Conference of Parties next April for a decision on listing under the Convention.

And the meeting was rounded out by an excellent presentation from PAN UK scientists Stephanie Williamson, on nonchemical alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides, particularly carbofuran on coffee and tomato in Costa Rica, and Rina Guadagnini on PAN UK’s project with FAO on HHPs in former Soviet Union Countries.

PAN Shows Support to Upcoming Tribunal vs. Monsanto

As the date for the historic Monsanto Tribunal draws near, an increasing number of civil society organizations are expressing support to the initiative that aims to make the agrochemical giant to answer for its various crimes against the people and the environment.

In her video message as a “patron” for the Monsanto Tribunal, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) executive director Sarojeni Rengam on behalf of PAN International said, “We are concerned that Monsanto and other agrochemical TNCs (transnational corporations) produce poisons that continue to harm human health and the environment.”

The video may be viewed here – https://www.facebook.com/monsantotribunal/

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.

Rengam specifically identified Monsanto’s glyphosate called Roundup as one of the highly toxic products that the company produces and permanently damaged the environment and poisoned countless people.

Roundup is a probable carcinogen classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and yet Monsanto persists in marketing the said product. The PANAP official pointed out that use of Roundup has increased tremendously due to the aggressive public relations and marketing efforts by Monsanto. Consequently, it has caused untold poisonings such as the death of 11-year old Sylvino Talavera from Paraguay.

“We hope that this unique Tribunal will bring justice to Sylvino and others who been poisoned, harassed and devastated by the actions of Monsanto. We encourage more people and organizations around the world to support it,” Rengam said.

In a monograph prepared by PANAP for PAN International, the group noted that glyphosate herbicides have been frequently used in self-poisonings and many deaths have occurred, especially in Asia, from as little as 3/4 of a cup of formulated product. There have also been many cases of unintentional poisonings amongst users and bystanders, the former often experiencing severe chemical burns and respiratory problems.

Widespread poisonings have occurred in Latin America as a result of aerial spraying of genetically modified GM soybean crops, and of coca crops in Colombia—effects being recorded as far as 10 km away from the supposed spray zone. The coca spraying (instigated by a US government funded program to eliminate cocaine production in Colombia) was also reported to have also resulted in widespread animal deaths.

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam (sarojeni.rengam@panap.net)

11 Questions we asked Dr. Meriel Watts

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Agrochemicals like pesticides have contributed in the massive destruction of the environment including acute and chronic impacts on livestock, soil fertility, and pollinators like bees and other beneficial insects necessary for a stable, healthy and productive ecosystem.

Aside from environmental destruction, there is no question as well on the harmful impact of pesticides on human health and that the people of poor countries are worst affected. It is also in these countries that two of the most vulnerable groups — women and children — are most exposed.

Research shows there’s a link between the indiscriminate use of highly hazardous pesticides and infertility, birth defects and miscarriages. Endocrine disruptors from pesticides can mutate genes, even causing epigenetic (or heritable changes in gene expression) effects – potentially putting future generations at risk.The good news is there are alternatives to chemical-intensive agriculture. One is agroecology.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) has long promoted agroecology, which has shown to increase farm productivity and food security. Innovative, environmentally-friendly and communal, agroecology improves rural livelihoods and is adaptive to threats such as climate change.

In this exclusive interview, coordinator of PAN Aotearoa New Zealand, a steering council member of PAN AP, renowned activist and pesticide specialist Dr. Meriel Watts expands on agroecology, shares her experiences in practicing it, and details its many benefits. Her recent talk on agroecology is available here and her latest book, co- written with Stephanie Williamson, titled Replacing Chemicals with Biology: Phasing out Highly Hazardous Pesticides with Agroecology is available here.

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1.How long have you been farming?

For thirteen years on our own farm, Tidal Organics but off and on throughout my life working on other people’s farms.

2. What kind of education or career did you pursue before farming?

Although I was city-raised, I always wanted to be a farmer, since my earliest memories. I would spend school holidays on my uncle’s dairy farm.

I worked on farms in New Zealand as soon as I left school, then completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science. After that I worked for a while in plant disease research for the Government. I moved to the United Kingdom and worked on farms there, and eventually joined a medical laboratory. When I came back to New Zealand, after a little more farm work my life became urban for a while and I began growing my own vegetables (this was about 40 years ago!)

Then I trained in natural medicine including herbal medicine, homeopathy and nutrition, and established a practice treating people (and farm animals), as well as teaching young mums how to treat their sick children. When I began treating people with pesticide poisoning, I realised that something need to be done to stop people getting poisoned in the first place. So at that stage, about 25 years ago, I began my life’s work as a pesticide activist and advocate for organic farming, both streams of work continuing to this day.

During this time I completed a PhD in pesticide risk assessment and policy, sat on numerous Government committees on pesticides, worked for Greenpeace, the Soil & Health Association and Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP). At the same time I took a leading role in the organics sector in New Zealand. So my working life has been, and always will be, a happy blend of human health issues and agricultural issues – both the negative impacts and the positive pathways – because of course all are totally connected, although today these four areas are still mostly not brought together in policy, training or work areas. The silo approach to life still dominates.

3.Why do you feel that it is important to use agroecological systems in farming?

Well, the first thing is that it challenges the silo approach: it brings people to see their farms, their families, their communities and the environment as an interconnected whole. Once they see that, they understand that using toxic pesticides poisons the environment, endangers their own health, and undermines the sustainability of farm production. Agroecology gives farmers greater control over their production; they do not have to rely on expensive input to produce cash crops that don’t really feed the family. Agroecology enables them to use local resources to provide healthy food and a cash surplus.

4. What does agroecology mean for you?

It means the farmer and family and community working together with the land in a way that best utilises the particular climatic and geographic characteristics of this land to produce healthy food in a way that improves sustainability and biodiversity and the overall functioning of the agroecosystem. It means farmers and their families and communities having greater control over their own lives.

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5. You have documented many cases of successful methods of farming based on agroecology from all over the world in the book Replacing Chemicals with Biology: Phasing Out Highly Hazardous Pesticides with Agroecology. What is the key lesson you learned writing this book?

The utmost importance of farmer-to-farmer learning and the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

6. What personal characteristics do you have that drew you to (and keeps you motivated on) farming?

Determination; an enquiring mind; joy in solving problems.

7. What is the biggest challenge in farming right now?

The variability and unpredictability of the climate. For example, this year our forecast was for for a very serious prolonged drought; instead it has rained so much that we had problems with fruit rot for the first time ever. Grapes would not ripen and the olive harvest looks to be a disaster. What was normally a ‘Mediterranean’ summer – hot and dry – has become a hot and wet tropical summer. We have no idea what the next season will bring so it is very hard to plan crops.

8. What is the most difficult part in terms of gaining ground against corporate giants that promote pesticides?

The power they have over people’s minds. People want to believe that the food they are eating or the Roundup they spray in their backyards is safe because it is easy, so they believe it. They don’t want to question what they have always assumed to be safe. They don’t want to worry about chemicals, so they close their minds. If only people would open their minds, the corporations would lose their power. We, the people, actually do have greater power than these businesses through our choices as consumers (that includes farmers buying inputs) but we don’t exercise it. If consumers stopped buying chemically-produced and highly processed food, farmers would soon change to agroecology.

9. What does it mean to you to be able to farm?

Everything: producing healthy food for people in our community is central to my being.

10. What has been the biggest reward from agroecological farming?

For me, the biggest reward is the gratitude and smiles when people come to our place to collect their weekly order of fresh healthy fruit, vegetables and herbs. That, and sitting down in the evening to a big plate of organic vegetables straight from the garden. I want food that is healthy, fresh, grown without poisons, nurturing and sustaining; and that everyone has the right to such food.

11. How would you encourage other farmers to adopt agroecological practices?

Constantly observe everything on your farm; observe what other agroecological farmers are doing; ask questions. Make compost. Do not reach for a spray when you see an insect, but learn which ones are your friends and which ones you need to control. Look for smart control options, like traps.

Photo Credit : Jo Davies

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Meriel’s Latest Talk on Phasing Out Highly Hazardous Pesticides with Agroecology is here !

 

April is autism awareness month

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April is Autism Awareness Month, and there is growing evidence between the link of pesticides and autism. Autism affects 1 in 68 children in the United States, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a set of disorders in the brain functions that leads to by impaired social interaction, restricted communication and repetitive stereotypic behaviours.
It is generally believed that ASD arises from alterations to specific brain structures during critical windows of vulnerability during fetal development. These rates are so alarming that this would be described as a pandemic according to key researchers and public health experts.
Pesticides are now registered as leading causes of autism with both organophosphates (OPs) and organochlorides (OCs) listed in the top ten causes along with other heavy metals (Landrigan et al 2012). Even small amounts of pesticides can lead to a higher risk factor of developing ASD (Eskenazi et al ,2007)
In many parts of Asia children and school staff of child bearing age are exposed to pesticides to pesticides near schools, through their diet and their environments. In rural areas, poverty forces children work on farms and plantations. Children are,then, exposed to pesticide spray drifts from farms and also sprayed on aerially eg. Philippines.

In Various Parts of Asia, the Numbers Are Alarming

Prevalence is hard to establish and estimates have varied widely, although in 2006 they were reported to be around 0.6precent of the population; with one recent UK estimate of 1.1 percent. In 2012, the rate in the US was reported as 11 percent (Landrigan et al 2012). A survey of 7 to 12-year-old children in South Korea, the prevalence of ASD was found to be a surprisingly high 2.64 percent (Kim et al 2011). In Australia rate: 45 cases per 10,000 people; 7th highest in the world. Also, Japan is considered to have the highest autism rate in the world: 181.1 cases per 10,000 people.

The number of children diagnosed with ASD is trending upwards, now at 31 percent of NDIS participants which comprises the largest disability group in the scheme; according to the NDIS Quarterly Report in June 2015. There was considerable variation across age groups, with a marked drop-off after peaking in the 5-9-year-old age group.  Also, Japan is considered to have the highest autism rate in the world: 181.1 cases per 10,000 people. A recent study has pegged the prevalence at 0.16 percent, previously it was reported around 0.04 percent and 0.05 percent.

Number of cases individuals of autism recorded by the Autism Society of America in 2007.

 

 

(Source: The Autism Society of America, 2007)

A growing number of epidemiological studies are the linking exposure to pesticide drifts to chronic conditions in children such as autism spectrum disorders (Roberts et al 2007).

Other studies have found: –

Children are exposed to pesticides via spray drift are at a higher risk of developing ASD. An investigation of the influence of pesticide drift into homes near agricultural fields in the US found a strong association between ASD in children and their mothers residing near fields where endosulfan and/or dicofol were sprayed in the periods just before and during fetal development of the central nervous system (weeks 1-8). The risk of ASD increased with the quantity of pesticide used and proximity of home to the fields being treated. Children, whose mothers were living within 500 metres of these fields, had more than a 60precent increased risk of ASD (Roberts et al 2007).

Children living in rural areas are further exposed to the impacts of pesticides. In 2015, a study in Malaysia found that children aged 10 to 11 years were exposed to pesticides like OPs and carbamates near rice paddy fields had poor motor skills, poor hand/eye coordination, attention speed and perceptual motor speed due to organophosphate and carbamate pesticide exposure. Children also had lower cholinesterase levels which is also indicator of pesticide poisoning.

What can you do to prevent Autism?

In developing Asian countries, such as Vietnam, India, Malaysia; many types of pesticides including brain harming pesticides like chlorpyrifos are readily available and still widely used. Brain harming organophosphate pesticides like chloropyrifos and monocrotophos, on the list of terrible twenty are still manufactured by DOW and is widely used around the world.

In Asia, awareness for ASD is increasing in many countries such as Malaysia, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, etc. however this is not enough. Communities and concerned parents and teachers need to take concerted action to protect children from toxic pesticides by: –

• Limit and prevent exposure to pesticides by creating buffer zones around schools and consuming pesticides free food as much as possible
• Support agroecological measures, and the farmers that choose to farm without pesticides. This can include biological pest control, crop rotation, etc. This will ensure that no pesticide residue get on to the fruits and vegetables we eat.
• Also, call upon government officials to outright ban and phase out highly-hazardous pesticides usage in agricultural areas. We call upon you to sign this petition.

REFERENCES CITED

CAUSES OF AUTISM. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.autism-help.org/autism-causes-detailed.htm

Dua, N. (2010, February 25). Pesticides pose health risks. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.irinnews.org/report/88234/asia-pesticides-pose-health-risks

FFTC Publication Database Food and Fertilizer Technology Center. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.agnet.org/library.php?func=view

Levin ED, Timofeeva OA, Yang L, Petro A, Ryde IT, Wrench N, et al. 2009. Early postnatal parathion exposure in rats causes sex-selective cognitive impairment and neurotransmitter defects which emerge in aging. Behav Brain Res 208(2):319–327.

Moon, J., Chun, B., & Lee, S. (2015, February 23). Variable response of cholinesterase activities following human exposure to different types of organophosphates. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25712411

Pesticides and health hazards Facts and figures [PDF]. (2012). Hamburg, Germany: PAN Germany.

Relate to Autism: Helping parents help children. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.relatetoautism.com/index.php?subform=article

Shelton, J. F., Hertz-Picciotto, I., & Pessah, I. N. (2012, July 1). EHP – Tipping the Balance of Autism Risk: Potential Mechanisms Linking Pesticides and Autism. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1104553/#r75

Ting, T. X., Lee, L. W., Low, H. M., Kok, N. H., & Chee, A. K. (2014). Prevalence, diagnosis, treatment and research on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Singapore and Malaysia [PDF]. The International Journal of Special Education.

Watts, M. (2013). Poisining Our Future: Children And Pesticides [PDF]. Penang, Malaysia: Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific.

Won, J. L., & Eun, S. C. (2009). J Rural Med 2009; 4 (2): 53ñ58 ©2009 The Japanese Association of Rural Medicine Review Overview of Pesticide Poisoning in South Korea [Scholarly project]. In The Berne Declaration. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from https://www.ladb.ch/fileadmin/files/documents/Syngenta/Paraquat/Overview_of_Pesticide_Poisoning_in_South_Korea.pdf

Z.A., Z. N., Hashim, Z., & D, B. (2015). Environmental Exposure of Organophosphate Pesticides Mixtures and Neurodevelopment of Primary School Children In Tanjung Karang, Malaysia [PDF]. University Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia: Asia Pacific Environmental and Occupational Health Journal.

Empowered Farmers Ensure Food Safety

“Farming without pesticides is far more economical and safer for farmers and consumers. This has led me to harvest my first pesticides-free crop of cabbages,” thus said Mr. Vellusamy who had undergone the Farmer Field School (FFS) carried out in Blue Valley, Cameron Highlands in 2015.

The FFS is an initiative by the PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) that aims to develop the capacity of farmers in making informed decisions based on their experience of observing, conducting experiments and monitoring of their farms. It also involves the participation of scientists, extension officers and experts in the field of agriculture to provide input and work with the farmers for viable solutions to the problems they face on the farm.

The focus of this particular FFS in Blue Valley was to incorporate biological control instead of harmful pesticides to deal with the infestation of the Diamond Back Moth among cabbages. According to a published research by entomologist Dr Peter Ooi, the moth causes significant damage to the crop and was discovered as early as 1925 in Cameron Highlands.

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Learn making organic liquid fertiliser.

PANAP started the FFS to help farmers lessen their dependency on chemical inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers manufactured by agribusiness which put our food safety in danger. Farmers also often lose their ability to make sound decisions based on their knowledge of agriculture and instead rely entirely on agriculture extension officers, and sellers as well as distributors of agrochemicals to carry out their agriculture practice. Clearly, it is profitable for agribusinesses but not the farmers who put themselves and consumers at great risk by using these chemical inputs.

The ramification of pesticides usage in Cameron Highlands was revealed in a study conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Cameron Highlands from 2014 to 2015. The study discovered that the rivers and tap water in Cameron had traces of highly toxic persistent organic pollutants such as endosulfan, which have been banned in Malaysia and globally under the Stockholm Convention.

The FFS in Blue Valley is part of the campaign, ‘Protect Our Children from Toxic Pesticides’ to raise awareness about the harmful impact of pesticides on human health particularly children. “These hazardous pesticides are extremely toxic to children and are linked to birth defects, learning disabilities, lowered I.Q. scores and cancer” said Deeppa Ravindran, Coordinator of the Protect Our Children from Toxic Pesticides Campaign.

“We must not lose sight of how profit-driven, corporate agricultural production dictates the type of food available, most of which have been produced with heavy dosage of pesticides that damage the environment and people’s health, especially children,” said PANAP executive director Sarojeni Rengam.

Recently, PANAP published ‘Replacing Chemicals with Biology:Phasing out highly hazardous pesticides with Agroecology’ which provides a wealth of case studies and data that proves farmers can make more money, ensure food safety and improve their health, and protect the environment by not using pesticides. PANAP along with Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International has also started a global petition urging governments and corporations to take concrete steps towards the phaseout and ban of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) and to replace these with safe, sustainable and ecological alternative methods of pest control in order to protect children’s health.

Please contact Wong Pei Chin at 017 725 1758 or pei.panap@gmail.com for further details.

PANAP renews call for tighter regulation of agrochemicals and ban of highly hazardous pesticides amid batu gajah poisoning

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PENANG, Malaysia – PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) today renewed its call for authorities to more tightly regulate agrochemicals and ban the highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) amid reports of pesticide poisoning in Siputeh, Batu Gajah in Ipoh. Thirty seven people, aged two to 71, were rushed to the hospital – with four in critical condition – after eating food apparently contaminated with the pesticides from carbamate group from a local stall last 4 March. Weedicides were also traced near the premises.

“The tragedy illustrates the toxic effects of pesticides that are often acute and irreversible,” PANAP Executive Director, Sarojeni Rengam said. She also noted that the test conducted by the Department of Chemistry did not identify the specific type of pesticide but only looked at the general chemical group called carbamates.

“Therefore, we call for more stringent tests to identify the particular pesticide behind the poisoning for more rigorous regulation and hopefully, even making the manufacturers accountable,” added Rengam.

Pesticides from the carbamate group are generally neurotoxic and have been associated with adverse effects on human development, affecting both babies and children.

“People and children are continuously being poisoned by pesticides, and children are particularly more vulnerable. This must stop and authorities need to make necessary steps to protect and give children a save and healthy environment “ says Deeppa Ravindran, coordinator of the Protect Our Children from Toxic Pesticides Campaign.

Pesticides are widely rampant and sold in Malaysia, in the recent study done by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in Cameron Highlands found highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) like Endrin,Aldrin, DDE and Endosulfan has been found in drinking water.

PANAP, together with PAN International, and other groups have launched an appeal to ban HHPs worldwide. More than 430 organizations from over 80 countries in all regions of the world have already signed the appeal. “We urge the public to support our campaign and sign the petition. The incident in Batu Gajah makes even more compelling our collective appeal to the government and agrochemical corporations to phase out the HHPs and protect our people, especially the children,” said Rengam. ###

Petition Link >>  HERE

For more information, please contact Deeppa Ravindran: deeppa.ravindran@panap.net

*Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.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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