Notes to broadcasters
The World Health Organization estimates that pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.) poison more than 3 million people worldwide every year. Other estimates put the figure as high as 25 million agricultural workers in developing countries alone. Estimates of unintentional deaths due to pesticides range from 20,000 to 200,000 globally each year. Children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides, especially children who work on farms and plantations, often mixing and/or applying pesticides. Their nervous systems and immune systems are still developing and can be more easily damaged. Many more children are involuntarily exposed to pesticides during spraying, or when they enter pesticide-treated areas too soon. Pesticides can have immediate effects on health, or the effects may show up later in life. International standards and most labour laws prohibit work with pesticides for children under the age of 18.
As a broadcaster, the more you do to promote careful use of pesticides, and to reduce pesticide use, the more people you help. Many organizations around the world promote safer use of pesticides. There are also many organizations that help people who are trying to farm without pesticides. There’s a short contact list of these organizations in the information sources at the end of the script.
I heard a story recently about a small village where many children are sick. The villagers say that pesticides are causing the illnesses. But the people who use the pesticides deny it. They say the villagers have no proof.
I wanted to know for myself. I have children, so this issue concerns me personally. I decided to travel to the village to investigate and to speak with the clinic doctor.
After a long trip, I arrived at Doctor Subrahmanyam’s clinic in the village. It’s a small hut, thatched with dried leaves. There are two rooms — a waiting room and a room to see patients. When I arrived, adults were sitting in the few chairs, and many children were playing on the floor or sitting on the front steps. There were a surprising number of people at the clinic, considering that the village itself is very small.
Here is the interview with Doctor Subrahmanyam and his patients that I recorded that day.SOUND EFFECTS [people talking, children playing; fade under interviewer].
Contributed by Vijay Cuddeford, researcher/writer, North Vancouver, Canada.
Reviewed by Peter Hurst, International Labour Organization – International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour, Geneva, Switzerland.
CSE laboratory analysis strengthens suspicion that the Kerala Pesticide Tragedy is a government corporation’s creation. Press Release. Centre for Science and the Environment.
Cuddeford, Vijay. Pesticide safety: radio spots. Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. Nov. 1998.
Cuddeford, Vijay. Pesticides can hurt unborn children. Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. May 1999.
McGivering, Jill. “Indian children in pesticide controversy.” BBC News Online. 8 Mar. 2002.
Jeyaratnam, J. “Acute Pesticide Poisoning: A Major Global Health Problem.” World Health Statistics Quarterly. 1990.
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Africa
Sicap Amitié I villa N° 3018, Dakar, Senegal
Mail: PAN Africa, BP 15938 Dakar-Fann
Tel: (221) 825 49 14
Fax: (221) 825 14 43
PAN Latin America
Coordinadora Regional de RAP-AL
Alianza por una Mejor Calidad de Vida/Red de Acción en Plaguicidas
Avenida Providencia N° 365, Dpto. N° 41, Providencia, Santiago de Chile
Groundwork: Environmental Justice Action in Southern Africa
91c Burger Street, Pietermaritzburg 3201
PO Box 2375
Tel: (+27) 033-3425662
Fax: (+27) 033-3425665