END CORPORATE GREED! RIGHTS NOW! A sign-on statement to stop the poisoning of the people and the planet

Thirty-three years ago today, the horrendous Bhopal gas tragedy at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in India immediately killed 3,000 people and 15,000 more subsequently.  Survivors, exposed to the deadly gas and their children, continue to suffer from the world’s worst industrial disaster. Thousands of tons of hazardous wastes remain buried underground and the area remains contaminated. Meanwhile, Union Carbide, which became a subsidiary of Dow-Chemical Co. in 2001, has yet to fully account for the tragedy.

The infamous Bhopal tragedy serves as a harsh reminder of agrochemical corporations’ transgressions of human rights and environmental integrity. They continue to poison our people and environment with impunity. Our food, health and environment are threatened now more than ever as these corporate giants continue to amass huge profits and expand their monopolies. Dow recently completed its US$130-billion merger with DuPont to form the world’s largest chemical company. As the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food pointed out, these global corporations wield extraordinary power over regulator agencies and policy makers, obstructing reforms and paralyzing global pesticide restrictions.

Worrying new studies show certain pesticides are implicated in chronic effects including hormonal disruption, immune system dysfunction, cancers, and adverse effects on the growing foetus and children. Pesticides have been poisoning agricultural workers and farmers for over 60 years and yet there are still no accurate estimates of pesticide poisoning. In the 1990’s, a report in a World Health Organizations (WHO) journal estimated 25 million workers suffered at least one incident of poisoning every year. Recent estimates indicate that pesticides were responsible for an estimated 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year [1]. The overwhelming number of fatalities, some 99%, occurred in developing countries where health, safety and environmental regulations were weaker[2].

PANAP and its partners have documented that Syngenta, Bayer, Dupont and Monsanto and their local counterparts dominate the agro-chem industry in the South Asia and South East Asian region.

In South and South East Asia, highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) produced by Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont and Monsanto such as atrazine, paraquat fipronil, carbofuran, chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, glyphosate, lambda-cyhalothrin, imidacloprid, malathion and monocrotophos – all known for poisoning people and/or the environment – are still used widely in farming. They are used on farms, cotton fields, rice paddies, mango and oil palm plantations and in floriculture, violating the rights of plantation workers, farmers, rural women and indigenous peoples to a safe and healthy working environment and the rights of communities to a healthy environment. Rights to information on the pesticides they use or to which they are exposed are constantly violated. Specific cases of violations of women and children’s rights, labour rights and right to civil liberties have been documented.

In the meantime, because of the lack of corporate accountability for gross human rights violations and responding to the pressure from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Human Rights Council has established an Open Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) for the development of a legally binding treaty on transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises, with respect to human rights. We applaud the efforts OEIGWG and hope that the final document of the Treaty will achieve the goal of ensuring that companies are fully accountable for their human rights violations and environmental crimes.

Further to this, States must be responsible for the protection of human rights and put forward the interests and welfare of its people. It must defend and assert the rights of its people from corporate rights violations as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Dependence on pesticide use must be drastically reduced. Agroecology provides the best solution. It is economically, environmentally and culturally sustainable. Agroecology is being practiced by thousands of farmers worldwide to ensure food security, safety and sovereignty, as well as environmental sustainability and farmer and community health and well-being.

Therefore, we the undersigned organisations and individuals demand:

That the Agrochemical TNCs, plantations, agribusinesses and complicit companies

  • be held accountable for poisoning the people and the planet;
  • heed the public’s assertion of their rights to a safe and healthy food and environment;
  • are prevented from dominating regulatory agencies and global conventions and agreements that attempt to restrict the worst pesticide problems;
  • indemnify affected sectors of society such as farmers, children and their families; and
  • clean up the environmental impacts including ensuring safe water and food.

That the national and local governments

  • ban the trade, distribution and use of highly hazardous pesticides;
  • support the call for a comprehensive new global treaty to regulate and phase out highly hazardous pesticides;
  • closely monitor and ensure compliance of companies with labour and environmental laws and policies on hazardous pesticides;
  • develop a medical and economic rehabilitation programme for farmers and others impacted by highly hazardous pesticides, with funds drawn from punitive actions and CSR;
  • implement at least one kilometre pesticides-free buffer zones around schools as a measure to protect children;
  • provide a supportive policy environment for agroecology, including supporting farmers to change from pesticides to agroecology;
  • fully support the OEIGWG process and the Binding Treaty to help ensure that companies are responsible and accountable for their actions; and
  • demand justice and accountability from corporations over gross human rights violations committed against its people.

That national and local agro-chemical companies and plantations

  • Adhere to environmental laws that respond to precautionary and polluter pays principles.
  • Fulfill workers’ rights in accordance with national laws and regulations and international conventions, including the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management
  • Fulfill workers’ and farmers’ rights to live decently and with dignity while and indigenous peoples’ culture, tradition and knowledge are respected
  • Do not allow the sale or use of pesticides that require the use of PPE, because it is unsuitable for hot humid conditions, not readily available and /or too expensive for farmers and workers, as is required by the Code
  • Provide adequate training to their workers
  • Discontinue the sale and use of all highly hazardous pesticides

Finally, we urge our fellow civil society organisations, social movements and people’s organisations to join our calls

End Corporate Impunity, Accountability Now!   Oppose the Corporate Control Of Agriculture!
Support the global legally binding treaty for the life-cycle management of pesticides!
Promote Agroecology and Food Sovereignty!  Fight For A Just And Pesticides Free Future!

Signed:

  1. Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska
  2. Bangladesh Apparels Workers Federation -BAWF, Bangladesh
  3. BARCIK, Bangladesh
  4. JAGO NARI, Bangladesh
  5. Participatory Research Action Network- PRAN, Bangladesh, Bangladesh
  6. GAPROFFA , Benin
  7. Cambodia Grassroots Cross-sector Network, Cambodia
  8. Cambodian Coalition of Farming Communities (CCFC), Cambodia
  9. Cambodian Food and Service Worker Federation (CFSWF), Cambodia
  10. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), Cambodia
  11. Equitable Cambodia, Cambodia
  12. Independent Democracy Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia
  13. Social Action for Change, Cambodia
  14. PEAC China, China
  15. JVE Côte d’Ivoire, Côte d’Ivoire
  16. New Wind Association, Finland
  17. SOL, Alternatives agroécologiques et solidaire, France
  18. APVVU, India
  19. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
  20. Empower INDIA, India
  21. Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS), India
  22. International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth Movement (MIJARC), India
  23. Jago Trust, India
  24. National Alliance of People’s Movements – NAPM, India
  25. National Center for Labour (NCL), India
  26. NISARGA, India
  27. PAN India, India
  28. Rastria Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Sangam RVVS( National Agricultural workers and small farmers Union)India, India
  29. SAHANIVASA India, India
  30. Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum, India
  31. Telengana Vyavasaya Vruthidarula union –TVVU, India, India
  32. UNION-APMUAP Fisher folk Union) India, India
  33. Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) – Indonesia
  34. BaliFokus Foundation, Indonesia
  35. Forum Permuda Bala Tani – Bantaeng, Indonesia
  36. Gita Pertiwi Foundation, Indonesia
  37. Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES), Indonesia
  38. Keluarga Mahasiwa Cibaling, Indonesia
  39. Komunitas Perempuan Seni (KOPI) Bantaeng – Sulawesi – Sulatan, Indonesia
  40. Liga Mahasiwa Nasional Untuk Demokrasi (LMND), Indonesia
  41. Mineral7, Indonesia
  42. Pemadu Baru (PEMBARU) – Indonesia
  43. Serikat Pemuda Dayau Kal-Bar, Indonesia
  44. Walhi, Indonesia
  45. Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), Malaysia
  46. North-South Initiative (NSI), Malaysia
  47. Sahabat Alam Malaysia/Friends of the Earth Malaysia, Malaysia
  48. Third World Network, Malaysia
  49. Tenaganita, Malaysia
  50. Center for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
  51. JA!FOEMozambique, Mozambique
  52. Youth for Environment, Education and Development Foundation (YFEED Foundation), Nepal
  53. Human Unity Movement (HUM), Pakistan
  54. Pakistan Kissan Masdoor Tehreek (PKMT), Pakistan
  55. Roots for Equity, Pakistan
  56. Roshni Tariqiyati Tanzeem, Pakistan
  57. Sojhla for Social Change, Pakistan
  58. Agro-Eco Philippines, Philippines
  59. AMIHAN Federation of Rural Women, Philippines
  60. Center for Environmental Concern, Philippines
  61. Center for Women’s Resources, Philippines
  62. Defend Job Philippines, Philippines
  63. Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines
  64. Go Organic Davao City, Philippines
  65. Go Organic Mindanao, Philippines
  66. Green Action PH, Philippines
  67. Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Philippines
  68. Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), Philippines
  69. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Philippines
  70. Mamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying, Philippines
  71. MASIPAG – Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development), Philippines
  72. METSA Inc., Philippines
  73. PAN Philippines, Philippines
  74. Save Davao Shrinehills Movement, Philippines
  75. Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan (SINAGBAYAN) – Philippines
  76. Sustainable Davao Movement – Philippines
  77. UMA Pilipinas, Philippines
  78. United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines (UNYAP-CAR), Philippines
  79. African Centre for Biodiversity (Acbio), South Africa
  80. RAPAL Uruguay, Uruguay
  81. Fundacion Aguaclara, Venezuela
  82. Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED), Vietnam
  83. Asia Pacific forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
  84. Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)
  85. Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC)
  86. Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
  87. Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI)
  88. GRAIN
  89. Ibon International
  90. Inclusive Development International (IDI)
  91. International Women’s Alliance (IWA)
  92. People Over Profits Network
  93. Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
  94. SEARICE

Please sign-on at: https://www.change.org/p/governments-end-corporate-greed-rights-now

For organisational sign-on, please write to PAN Asia Pacific, info@panap.net.

____________________

[1] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Human Rights Council, Thirty-fourth session, 27 February-24 March 2017. >https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/017/85/PDF/G1701785.pdf?OpenElement

[2] Ibid

Leave a Comment