Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) is one with the international peasant sector on its call for a pesticide-free world as we commemorate the 38th year since the Bhopal Tragedy.
On this day in 1984, the quiet city of Bhopal in India was turned into a massive gas chamber after a gas leak from the US subsidiary owned pesticide factory Union Carbide India Ltd which claimed 3,000 lives, with 25,000 more dead in the aftermath. 38 years after the Bhopal tragedy, justice remains bleak to the victims and the corporate world is still business as usual in manufacturing these highly hazardous pesticides further introducing it to marginalized communities by lobbying it to public entities.
Currently, there has been an indefinite agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with pesticide corporate giant CropLife International to “address” food insecurity by investing in the so-called “climate-smart” agriculture that leads to greater use of pesticides and proprietary seeds.
As the FAO Council gathers for its 171st Council Session on 5 to 9 December 2022, MASIPAG is in solidarity with everyone especially to the international peasant sector in demanding the FAO leadership and Member States to end its indefinite agreement with CropLife International.
In the Philippines, the use of pesticide such as Glyphospate by Monsanto is tied with the use of GM corn. Two years ago, the Alcala town in Cagayan province experienced devastating 15-meter-high floodwaters. Local scientists and farmers accurately identified the culprits of the flood: the use of herbicides in GM corn farming killed the vegetation, exposing the soil and ultimately damaging the capacity of the land to absorb water leading to the clogging and boating Alcala’s waterways.
In a study conducted by MASIPAG in the corn farms in Capiz, Philippines, glyphosate residues were seen in the soil and nearby water resources as well as the corn grains produced from the studied farms. Horrendously, farmers utilizing glyphosate were also found to be contaminated as evidenced by glyphosate residues from their urine samples.
Further, already exploited workers in plantations and children from the nearby communities in the island of Mindanao continuously suffer from acute to severe poisoning due to pesticide application. The highly dangerous Paraquat and Glyphosate that can cause coma, seizures, respiratory failure, and even death are the plantations’ top pesticides of choice.
The dangers of pesticides not only stimulate problems of health and the environment but also in land ownership, culture and labor violations. Indigneous, traditional and farmer knowledge on pest management and collective work such as bayanihan are being replaced by highly hazardous pesticides.
Among corporate owned plantations and haciendas, the hunger for profit is satiated by lessening production costs thru the rampant use of pesticide, thereby displacing the workforce. Unfair and positivist land policies also complement the unsustainable expansion of plantations sustained by pesticides. Indigenous communities and ancestral domains failed by the inefficiency of state laws upholding their rights are displaced and dispossessed of their lands to pave way for “economic growth” through the expansion of these plantations.
MASIPAG reiterates its stand to a pesticide free world that can only be achieved through the sustainable use and management of biodiversity through farmers’ control of genetic and biological resources, agricultural production and associated knowledge, and genuine agrarian reform. The world has seen enough horrors induced by these pesticides peddled by transnational corporations to know where is this FAO-CROPLIFE #TOXICALLIANCE is heading to.
The tragedy of Bhopal and the disaster in the Philippines cannot be reduced into a mere “lesson learned” for these corporations. The tragedy of Bhopal and the disaster in the Philippines are but crimes against humanity incited by the corporate world.
MASIPAG enjoins everyone in demanding that CropLife International must be EXCLUDED in FAO strategies in dealing with the food and climate crises. In achieving genuine climate justice, MASIPAG likewise calls for the full accountability of the pesticide giant CropLife International in its long list of crimes against the environment as being one of the top and worst historical polluters.
FAO must end the #ToxicAlliance on its 171st Council: https://bit.ly/StopTA2022