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FAO Urged Anew To Drop #ToxicAlliance With CropLife Amid Reports Of Meddling In Mexico Glyphosate Ban

PAN Asia Pacific today (PANAP) joined civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations in formally requesting to meet with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Qu Dongyu to discuss widespread public concern with FAO’s announcement last November of plans to formalize a partnership with CropLife International — the global trade association of the world’s biggest agrochemical corporations.

The 11 organizations that co-sponsored the joint letter urged Qu to immediately abandon FAO's strategic partnership with CropLife. They asked FAO to instead develop an integrated policy to prevent conflicts of interest to ensure that corporate “solutions” are not influencing its work on sustainability, and further threatening biodiversity, human health, and food sovereignty. The groups further said that the FAO-Croplife #ToxicAlliance would undermine the FAO’s mandate as a UN institution and the principles set out in its Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.

The joint letter reiterated concerns voiced by 350 civil society and indigenous peoples organizations as well as 250 scientists and academics in letters sent to FAO Director-General Qu in November 2020. The Director-General’s response dated 27 November 2020, however, did not satisfactorily address these concerns.

“We urge the FAO to sit with us and understand the gravity of our concerns regarding its proposed alliance with CropLife. The influence of the pesticide industry grows by the day, and is overreaching into public policy spaces in alarming ways,” said Sarojeni Rengam, PANAP executive director.

Rengam cited a recent report that reveals how CropLife America closely worked with US officials to pressure the Mexican government to drop a ban on glyphosate, including attempts to fold the issue into the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal. In December 2020, Mexico declared a phaseout of glyphosate use, as well as the planting and consumption of genetically engineered corn, by 2024. CropLife’s involvement in moves to counter Mexico’s glyphosate ban is similar to how Bayer and the US government pressured the Thai government to reverse a ban on glyphosate in 2019.

“Croplife is gaining notoriety for pressuring governments to rescind pesticide bans that protect people’s health and the environment. The FAO should not further undermine its integrity, credibility and impartiality with a deepening partnership with CropLife,” Rengam said.

The FAO’s alliance with CropLife comes on the heels of the UN’s Strategic Partnership with the World Economic Forum—a global platform representing the world’s corporate giants—and the “corporate hijack” of the planned UN Food Systems Summit 2021.

“The increasing corporate capture of the UN cannot be more inappropriate. At a time when a global pandemic has pushed hundreds of millions of food producers into even greater hunger and poverty, the same old ‘corporate solutions’ are not what they need. As massive protests in India show, farmers are hungry for real change—and this does not include CropLife or the agrochemical industry, whose only purpose is to keep farmers dependent on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs),” Rengam said.

A recent study estimates that there are 385 million cases of acute pesticide poisonings each year, up from an estimated 25 million cases in 1990. This means that about 44% of the global population working on farms — 860 million farmers and agricultural workers – are poisoned each year by an industry dominated by CropLife members.

The joint letter to Qu notes that an “alliance with CropLife also undercuts the FAO’s support for agroecology, an approach that offers viable and sustainable proposals for generating ecologically-based food and farming systems without the use of HHPs.”

Please see a copy of the letter to the UN FAO Director-General here.

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