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aches. The workers in the area reported that annual deaths had increased by 10 per cent recently and that there had been a large number of animal deaths in the area."5

A study carried out by the Pesticides Programme of the University of Costa Rica showed that an average of 471 poisonings (requiring hospitalization of more than one day) occurred in each year

The political economy

of food distribution remains a greater

problem than increasing food


between 1980 and 1986 — about 2709 cases over the six year period. About eight per cent were fatal. Further studies through the Costa Rican National Institute of Insurance showed that for every one case presented at a hospital, 40 incidents were reported to insurers. And even these figures do not take account of mild poisonings, or of cases involving poor farmers who are not covered by insurance schemes.6

Although there is also a growing body of documentation on the adverse environmental effects of pesticides in Third World countries, this is often either ignored by the authorities or set off against the "more important" aim of increasing production. In Egypt, for example, the widespread aerial and ground application of pesticides has led to increased resistance in cotton pests. The poisoning of livestock, poultry, wild birds and bees; fish kills in the Nile and in irrigation canals, lakes and coastal areas; the decline in useful pest predator and parasite populations; the contamination of surface and groundwater sources as well as vegetables and fruit, all bear witness to the damage done by these practices.7

As with many development agencies and governments, FAO emphasizes increasing food production as the solution to world hunger. In fact, sufficient food is produced in most years to feed the planet, and the political economy of food distribution remains a greater problem than increasing food production. In any case, most pesticides in Third World countries are not applied to subsistence crops but to export crops such as cotton, tea, cocoa, coffee and palm oil. Moreover, good agricultural practices can reduce losses without recourse to pesticides.

Two years after its pesticide programme began, FAO did recognize some of the problems arising from pesticides, particularly in the Third World. It then established several committees, the work of which included harmonizing procedures for the registration and control of pesticides, establishing safety standards for pesticide residues and monitoring the development of pesticide resistance. However, alternative methods of pest control, or support for traditional agriculture, were not on the agenda.

In recent years, FAO has encouraged the development of biotechnology, breeding genetic resistance in crops, the use of "trap" crops to divert pests from the main harvest and integrated pest management (IPM). It held its first workshop on IPM in 1965, and has contributed to IPM projects, most notably a major programme in In­

donesia to fight the rice brown leafhopper after intensive pesticide use caused this pest to devastate rice paddies.8

But, FAO's belated recognition of the problems caused by chemical inputs did not alter its commitment to expanding their use. In 1974, as an essential part of its strategy for achieving a massive expansion in world food production, the World Food Conference pledged its support for huge increases in the use of fertilizers and pesticides. In 1985, FAO reiterated this in its guidelines for the registration and control of pesticides.9

FAO and the Agrochemical Industry FAO's policies on pesticides have been strongly influenced by its close links with the agrochemical industry. Although weaker than in the past, these links remain through the industry's presence at FAO workshops, industry observers at expert panels and committees and through common goals on issues such as pesticide registration and standards.

In the 1960s, the agrochemical industry formed a lobbying organization called the Groupement International des Associations Nationales de Pesticides (GIFAP). This group created a joint bureau within FAO called the Industry Cooperative Programme (ICP), in which GIFAP representatives,

The Pesticides Trust

The Pesticides Trust is a charitable foundation formed in 1987 to create awareness among those who make decisions over the use and regulation of pesticides. Those who wish to support our work are invited to affiliate.

FAO, Pesticides and Food Production

FAO' s commitment to the use of pesticides in agriculture goes back to 1959, when it began its first pesticides programme. Pests are generally said to destroy up to onethird of the world's food crops during growth, harvesting and storage, with higher crop losses in Third World countries. FAO promoted pesticides as the effective way to prevent these losses and to increase food production.

Pesticides News is published four times a year. Industry subscriptions £60, NGOs, non-profit making groups £30.

The FAO Code: Missing Ingredients is available from The Pesticides Trust for £10.50 including postage (£5.50 to NGOs/ non-profit making organizations).

A new report Pesticides, Policies and People will be published shortly priced £10.

Cheques to The Pesticides Trust, 23 Beehive Place, London SW9 7QN


The Ecologist, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1991 drawn from agrochemical companies, could work with FAO technicians. By the early 1970s,jointFAOICP seminars had been organized in various parts of the Third World to promote "new and better ways" of distributing agricultural pesticides.10

Industry lobbyists openly dominated several of the sub-committees which were responsible for formulating United Nations policy on agriculture and the agrochemical corporations that made up the ICP came to enjoy a semi-official status in FAO. The chemical giant Hoechst, for example, was brought in to advise on a Tanzanian agricultural development project. The UN representative on one Bangladesh anti-malaria project was also a consultant to a large European company supplying the insecticide, malathion.11

Pressure from other sections of FAO, and from NGOs, eventually broke the direct link between FAO and the agrochemical industry, and the Industry Cooperative Programme left FAO in the mid- 1970s. However, a cosy relationship still exists between GIFAP and FAO. While NGOs campaigning in FAO want to see priority given to sustainable and organic agricultural methods, FAO and GIFAP still share many objectives.


CONTACT COCOA SERVICES DIVISION FOR YOUR REQUIREMENTS Pesticide advertising in Ghana. The FAO's guidelines on pesticide advertising are widely broken. Adverts have made false claims on pesticide safety, workers have been shown without appropriate protective clothing and warning symbols have been omitted.

As an industry association, GIFAP recognizes that it helps the interests of the pesticide corporations to be seen to be "concerned" and "responsible". While profits may suffer on the small number of hazardous products which are withdrawn from the market, the industry benefits from access to seminars promoting the "safe" use of pesticides. Such workshops are held frequently; some are promoted by governments or local industry associations and some by FAO. GIFAP material is generally available, and "resource" people are always on hand. Involvement in FAO workshops on the operation of their Code of Conduct strengthens GIFAP's links with training structures in the Third World. In promoting the "safe" use of pesticides, these workshops provide credibility for the chemicals. For example, on a training course for plant protection and extension officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and local companies in Indonesia, the course programme used the GIFAP Farmer Trainer Manual. An FAO Workshop on pesticide management in West Africa in 1989 used a GIFAP resource person.12

"Harmonizing" Pesticide Laws Pesticide reduction is not an FAO priority. Rather, its committees and panels are "devoted to such objectives as harmonizing methods and procedures for the registration and control of pesticides."13 GIFAP shares the same objective: "GIFAP has expended considerable effort for many years, largely through FAO, but with national authorities as well, in trying to achieve harmonization of registration requirements."14 For GIFAP, the harmonization of country laws and regulations will help its members sell pesticides: "The industry must work toward the development of rational and harmonized pesticide laws at national levels. Were the antipesticide lobby to be successful, the agrochemical industry worldwide would suffer — especially companies in smaller developing countries."15

FAO argues that registration is sufficiently stringent in industrialized countries to ensure that pesticides, when used according to registered label directions,

will be safe and efficient for the purposes claimed. Developing countries therefore:

".. . need not introduce elaborate regulatory schemes in order to control pesticides effectively. . . Once evaluated (the) results are valid world-wide and may be considered transferable. Developing countries can therefore use such data as inputs, without having to produce them independently."16

This not only ignores the implications of FAO's own International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides — that the problems encountered in the use of pesticides in the industrialized world are considerably greater in the Third World — but also the possibility of good local practices and solutions which are lost when replaced with chemical alternatives.

GIFAP attends as an observer on a range of FAO and UN panels where its members' interests are discussed. One of these is the FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, which has developed internationally agreed standards on pesticide residues. Part of the programme is designed to remove "non-tariff trade barriers caused by differing national food legislations, and [to protect] the consumer against health risks and fraud."17

GIFAP's support for this work could almost appear in an FAO document:

"The scientific judgments of the FAO/ WHO joint expert committee on pesticide residues and the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues are essential to the free trade of agricultural produce around the world. Without universally acceptable residue limits, food crops treated with pesticides could not be exported with any assurance of acceptance by the authorities of the importing country."

It should be recognized that NGOs now increasingly take part as observers at FAO and other UN Experts' meetings, however compared with industry lobbying, representation, and the funds to attend (FAO does not pay for observers) the access is far from equal.

The Code of Conduct

It was not until 1985, more than 25 years after FAO's pesticide programme began,

The Ecologist, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1991