Continuing on the theme of my previous two blogs about the interlinkages between water, food and energy security, one of the recurring themes at the Bonn conference last week was the impact of modern farming practices on the environment, most notably the seepage of nitrogen from fertiliser and residues from pesticides into ground water and rivers around the world. As many have argued, industrial systems of food production, relying on heavy applications of agro chemicals and an increasingly narrow range of seed varieties are unsustainable, polluting, and slowly reducing the genetic diversity of the crops we desperately need if we are going to develop a form of agriculture resilient to climate change. More support for an alternative agro ecological approach to food production is not just good for small farmers in sub Saharan Africa, as I have argued before in this blog, but also for production and the environment in the rest of the world too.
The overuse or misuse of agro chemicals is not just of danger to the environment of course. It’s also a hazard to health. This week I was sent a link to an interesting experiment about to take place in India. The Pesticide Action Network (PAN International), a global network of more than 600 organisations in 90 countries has been working on the hazards of chemical pesticides since 1982. In December it is planning to bring together witnesses and experts from around the world in Bangalore, India to convene a ‘global tribunal’ seeking justice for victims of the pesticide industry. From December 3rd – 6th 2011, a ‘People’s Tribunal’ will convene to hear 25 cases bought by “farmworkers, mothers, young people, scientists and consumers..” against six transnational pesticide producing companies, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and the US, Swiss and German Governments (where the 6 companies are domiciled). If you want to find out more about this please follow the link: “people’s trial” against the Big 6 pesticide corporations .