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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'United Nations' Category


19
Mar

UNEP Initiative Aims to Tackle Petrochemical Pesticide Infiltration in Global Majority Nations

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2024) This month the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) announced the creation of a new initiative to combat the health and environmental impacts of toxic petrochemical pesticides in agriculture. Launched by seven countries—Ecuador, India, Kenya, Laos, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam—the Financing Agrochemical Reduction and Management (FARM) Programme is a $379 million initiative that “will realign financial incentives to prevent the use of harmful inputs in food production.” This international cohort aims to phase out the use of “toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs)—chemicals which don’t break down in the environment and contaminate air, water, and food.” The work of FARM echoes Beyond Pesticides call for the banning of toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032. The program will help countries implement their commitment to eliminate POPs and plastics in agriculture. As it is described, “FARM…will support government regulation to phase out POPs-containing agrochemicals and agri-plastics and adopt better management standards, while strengthening banking, insurance and investment criteria to improve the availability of effective pest control, production alternatives and trade in sustainable produce.” The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants requires signatories to adopt a range of measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the release of POPs. All […]

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08
Jan

Commentary: We Can and Must Stop Antibiotic Pesticide Use in the Interest of Public Health Worldwide

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2024) Despite successful litigation that stopped the unnecessary use of an antibiotic (streptomycin) in citrus production in December 2023, the court’s reasoning fails to grasp the science behind the biggest emerging threat to U.S. and global health—antibiotic resistance. What is most disturbing and challenging is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), responsible for applying science in the protection of the public’s health, misled the court on the overwhelming worldwide scientific consensus on the contribution of agricultural antibiotic use to the human death and disability rate linked to antibiotic resistance. On this subject, Beyond Pesticides has written extensively about horizontal gene transfer, which explains the movement of antibiotic resistant bacteria throughout the environment, ultimately making their way to people, as medically necessary drugs become ineffective. As we’ve written, “The human pathogenic organisms themselves do not need to be sprayed by the antibiotic because movement of genes in bacteria is not solely “vertical,” that is from parent to progeny—but can be “horizontal”— from one bacterial species to another.” [Regarding the reliance of the court on EPA’s misrepresentation of the science, the court found, ”EPA emphasized that ‘there is no data that antibiotic use in agriculture leads to […]

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05
Jan

UN Climate Crisis Conference Calls for Phaseout of Fossil Fuels, which Are Used to Produce Pesticides and Fertilizers

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2023) The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) wrapped up in Dubai on December 13 with what some hailed as a breakthrough agreement among almost 200 countries to reduce fossil fuel consumption that signals “the eventual end of the oil age.” To be successful and assure human survival, eliminating oil, gas, and coal use, Beyond Pesticides is calling for the elimination of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers and support for organic, regenerative agriculture around the world. Because of the insurmountable crises that are caused or exacerbated by petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, the adoption of organic land management practices and the need for foundational change in federal, state, and local policies and practices has come into focus. Under organic management, healthy soil can absorb and store 1,000 pounds of carbon per acre foot of soil annually. This translates to about 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre drawn down from the air and sequestered into organic matter in soil. (It is noteworthy that use of synthetic fertilizers actually compromises the carbon-capture ability of some kinds of terrain, such as salt marshes.) A fact often overlooked by policy makers in generating climate strategies is that carbon-sequestering soil practices […]

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15
Dec

Int’l Group of Scientists Calls for Restraints on Conflicts of Interest in Publications and Regulation

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2023) Drawing on a recent gathering of international scientists, a group of 34 scientists published a call for much stricter scrutiny of researchers’ conflicts of interest by agencies that regulate and register chemicals, with recommendations for the newly formed Intergovernmental Science Policy Panel. Writing in Environmental Science & Technology, the authors, led by Andreas Schäffer of Aachen University in Germany and Martin Scheringer of Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, cite an abundance of examples of chemical companies and their trade associations manufacturing doubt via an array of techniques, resulting in agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dropping certain provisions from rulemaking, ignoring scientific consensus, and keeping chemicals on the market—and in the environment—that many scientists say should be entirely banned. The authors produced the article in response to this webinar to discuss how to ensure that U.N. panels dealing with global crises get the most sound scientific advice conducted by the International Panel on Chemical Pollution. Over the last four decades or so, the notion that conflicts of interest affect the validity of scientific research and professional opinions has been steadily eroded. Regulators wallow in compromised research, hamstrung by political pressure and […]

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19
Oct

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights and Environmental Justice Historian to Speak at Forum, October 24

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2023) The second session of the 40th National Forum, Forging a Future with Nature, will focus on environmental justice and offer a unique conversation with the United Nations Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights and an environmental justice history professional. Both celebrated speakers have studied and written about the long-standing social, economic, and health problems related to pesticides and disproportionate harm to people of color. The Forum will take place at 2:00 pm EDT on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. (See free registration information HERE.)   Beyond Pesticides brings together this Forum session with the inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963), “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Sixty years later, people of color—in the U.S. and around the world—still struggle with those same inequities that impose disproportionate risks interwoven in the fabric of economic and social systems in the United States and worldwide. The Forum takes place in the context of widespread toxic chemical exposure throughout communities and all strata […]

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08
Sep

[Reflection] Climate March on September 17 and Action: Interconnection between Climate Change and Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2023) In a united effort, climate and environmental justice movements from around the world have come together to announce a global “end to fossil fuels,” including the end of pesticides. The “March to End Fossil Fuels” is scheduled for September 17 and the Secretary General’s Summit in New York City on September 20. See the full map for other marches around the world. At the Beyond Pesticides, 2022 National Forum session on climate (November, 2022), we discussed the science and the urgent need for a strategic response to the climate crisis as part of a constellation of crises that intersect. Whether we are talking about a health crisis borne out of chemical-induced diseases, the collapse of life-sustaining biodiversity, or the dramatic catastrophes caused by greenhouse gases and rising temperatures—the interconnectedness of the crises requires strategic solutions that are holistic and nurturing of our relationship with nature —a relationship we have minimized as a matter of policy and practice. The data on climate calls on us to be audacious in our demand for urgent change in our households and communities, and from decision makers at all levels of government. At Beyond Pesticides, our audacious goal is to […]

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12
May

Persistent Pesticides and Other Chemicals Have Made “Legacy” a Dirty Word as “Forever” Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2023) With the growth of chemical-intensive land management over the last century, the world has been held captive by pesticide companies. For part of that time, it could be said the modern society has suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, a theory about abusive relationships in which one party exerts power over the other using threats, fear, and lies and the victim comes to depend on the perpetrator emotionally. During the so-called “Green Revolution” (circa 1945-1985), the world came to depend on vast amounts of fertilizers and herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Many people believed that food, clothing, and shelter made from naturally-occurring materials such as fruit, flax and wood could not be provided to the world without pesticides. It seemed that science and commerce could indefinitely raise the standard of living around the world, perhaps leading to world peace. This is not what happened. Soon observers noticed the harmful effects of many pesticides, including their persistence in the environment, their tendency to accumulate in the bodies of humans and wildlife, and their influence on the risk of contracting many diseases, from cancer to asthma—not to mention the Darwinian inevitability of pest resistance. By the turn of the 20th […]

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13
Mar

United Nations and White House Calls for Action to Protect the Oceans

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2023) The United Nations has just announced on March 4, 2023, an agreement on a new high seas treaty. The treaty, which must be adopted by member states and then ratified by at least 60 countries to take effect could be a critical development for meeting the UN’s COP15 “30 by 30” goal of protecting 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030 to slow and arrest global biodiversity losses. The treaty represents a step toward implementation of President Biden’s “America the Beautiful Initiative” set in 2021, proclaiming “the first-ever national conservation goal” established by a President –a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.” However, he U.S. has a poor track record on approval of UN environmental treaties; approval requires a two-thirds majority affirmative vote in the Senate, and failure on that would block a Presidential signature and ratification. Meanwhile, a report just reissued by an international coalition of scientists led by Boston College’s Global Public Health Program and Global Observatory on Planetary Health and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco documents the widespread and growing pollution of the ocean. The full report, “Human Health and Ocean Pollution,” is […]

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10
Mar

193 Countries in the United Nations Approve Treaty to Stop the Oceans from Dying

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2023) Following years of discussions and negotiations, 193 United Nations member countries have just approved — for the first time — a draft treaty for protection of the globe’s “high seas” and their denizens. The March 4 adoption of the draft marks the achievement of a potential legal framework for such protections, but is also the beginning of “a long journey to ensure the world’s oceans are adequately protected for future generations,” according to coverage by NewScientist. As research out of Boston College identifies, our oceans are badly polluted by multiple substances — including pesticides and other agricultural runoff; industrial and petrochemical waste; and the synthetic chemicals embedded in plastics — that threaten human health. The treaty, which must be adopted by member states and then ratified by at least 60 countries to take effect could be a critical development for meeting the COP15 “30 by 30” goal of protecting 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030 to slow and arrest global biodiversity losses. Beyond Pesticides has long covered the ecological harms of ocean pollution.  The treaty represents a step toward implementation of President Biden’s 2021 “America the Beautiful Initiative,” proclaiming “the first-ever national conservation goal” established […]

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22
Dec

Groups Again Call for Urgent Action to Eliminate Pesticide Industry’s Influence at the United Nations

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2022) International health and environmental groups submitted an urgent letter to  the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) late last month demanding “greater transparency and accountability” through termination of the agency’s two-year-old partnership with CropLife International (CLI), a global trade association representing the world’s biggest pesticide manufacturers. Addressed to FAO Deputy Director Beth Bechdol ahead of FAO Council 171 session in Rome and COP15, the letter outlines a unique opportunity for the organization to lead the phaseout of fossil-fuel based food systems and use of agrochemicals while upholding the agency’s responsibility to act in response to conflicts of interest and human rights violations.   The original Letter of Intent (LOI), signed between CLI President and CEO Guilia Di Tommaso and FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu in October 2020, framed the partnership as a means to ensure humanity’s freedom from hunger while advancing Sustainable Development Goals. However, according to PAN Europe Policy Officer Manon Rouby, “While the private sector has been working with FAO for years, this official agreement with CropLife directly threatens FAO’s work on supporting farmers in the transition towards agroecology, while reducing the harms of synthetic pesticides worldwide. With CropLife members being the largest agrichemical […]

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09
Dec

UN Again Calls for Action as Biodiversity Deterioration Worsens Worldwide

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2022) Representatives from more than 195 countries have descended on Montreal for the December 7 start of COP15 — the United Nation’s (UN’s) Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The UN Development Programme sets out the context for this summit: “Despite ongoing efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide, and this decline is projected to worsen with business-as-usual. The loss of biodiversity comes at a great cost for human well-being and the global economy.” Beyond Pesticides has documented many aspects of this decline in biodiversity, and the implications for ecosystem, human, and planetary health. In this COP15 context, the data points to the importance of broad adoption of organic regenerative / agroecological systems, which can very significantly address the interactive health, biodiversity, and climate crises. Close on the heels of November’s UN COP27 summit on climate, COP15 has commenced, with the goal of adopting a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (CBF) to provide “a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade.” The first such summit was called the Convention on Biological Diversity and was held in 1993. Out of […]

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15
Jul

UN: Short-Term Economic Gains Harming Well-Being and Integrity of Nature

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2022) Nature is too often sacrificed to a global and outsized focus on short-term profits and economic growth, according to a new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The report warns that policy making, broadly, does not reflect the value of Nature’s roles in supporting human life and activity, never mind all the peripheral benefits (aesthetic, emotional, spiritual) people derive from the natural world. The report calls on leaders in all sectors to integrate the contributions of Nature in development and deployment of policy in a more-comprehensive way — as Le Monde writes, “beyond being ‘a huge factory.’” Beyond Pesticides offers a seminal reminder from Fred Kirschenmann, PhD: the prevailing philosophy of maximum efficient production for short-term economic return at the expense of Nature causes havoc in the world and will not work in the future; instead, we must develop a broad ecological conscience that guides all that we do. The report’s Summary for Policymakers was approved on July 11 by representatives from 139 Member States; the report itself is the culmination of four years of effort by 82 collaborating scientists and experts from multiple disciplines. The same member […]

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17
Jun

Groups Worldwide Tell UN To Rescind Agreement with Chemical Industry for Human Rights Violations

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2022) Hundreds of civil society groups and organizations of indigenous people worldwide have called on the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to end its nearly two-year-old partnership with CropLife International, the trade association for the world’s largest pesticide manufacturers. The organizations’ June 9 letter to the Member State Representatives of the FAO Council was signed by 430 entities, from 69 different countries. The letter asserts that the UN agency’s agreement with CropLife International (CLI) is incompatible with FAO’s obligations to uphold human rights, and urges it both to review the partnership agreement on the basis of human rights concerns, and to “consider directing the Director-General of FAO to rescind the agreement.” The call comes from this huge group of advocates, but it is also coming from “inside the house”: UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Michael Fakhri is one of the signatories; Beyond Pesticides is one among 65 U.S. signatories. CropLife International’s corporate members — BASF, Bayer, Corteva, FMC, Sumitomo Chemical, and Syngenta — are huge synthetic pesticide companies with global reach. CLI also counts as members 11 subsidiary national associations in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Canada, and the […]

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25
Feb

Trillions in Subsidies Worldwide Are Driving Environmental Collapse Instead of Advancing Solutions

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2022) Together, governments of the world over are spending at least $1.8 trillion annually — 2% of global gross domestic product — on subsidies that drive the destruction of ecosystems and species extinction, and exacerbate the climate crisis. This news comes from a study commissioned by The B Team and Business for Nature, and released in a joint brief, Financing Our Survival: Building a Nature Positive Economy through Subsidy Reform. The Business for Nature website offers a remedy to this entropy: “With political determination and radical public–private sector collaboration, we can reform these harmful subsidies and create opportunities for an equitable, nature-positive and net-zero economy.” To that end, the two organizations have issued, in their brief, calls to action to multiple sectors, including one to the governments participating in the coming UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15): “Adopt a clear and ambitious target within the Global Biodiversity Framework . . . that commits governments to redirect, repurpose, or eliminate all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2030 and increase positive incentives to enable an equitable, net-zero, nature-positive world.” A press release from The B Team reports that the fossil fuel, agriculture, and water sectors are the recipients of more than […]

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20
Sep

We Must End the Sixth Extinction

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2021) Scientists warn that humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. A series of reports from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) highlights how human activities threaten the healthy functioning of ecosystems that produce food and water, as well as one million species now at risk of extinction. The UNEP report, Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss, identifies the global food system as the primary driver of biodiversity loss. The report points to the conversion of natural ecosystems to crop production and pasture, with concomitant use of toxic chemicals, monoculture, and production of greenhouse gases.  In view of the many steps that have been identified to stop both biodiversity loss and global climate change, it is beyond disappointing to see our “Environmental Protection Agency” continuing to allow use of chemicals that it recognizes will contribute to the problems. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.” It has been ratified by 196 nations—all the members of the United Nations […]

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