Children, due to their developing bodies, are particularly vulnerable to harms posed by pesticides. Their children, their children's children and future generations increasingly face a highly polluted environment that threatens their overall well-being. Pesticides disrupt hormone functions (endocrine disruption), cause physical abnormalities, damage internal organs or systems, and adversely impact intellectual and behavioural development. The effects can include:
- Birth defects: malformed or lack of limbs, anencephaly, spina bifida, harelip, cleft palate
- Neurological and behavioural disorders: ADHD, autism, cognitive problems, adult-onset Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease
- Cancers: childhood leukaemia and nonHodgkin's lymphoma, adult-onset breast cancer
- Immune system disruption : asthma, allergies, middle ear infections
- Metabolic disorders: obesity, diabetes
- Female - early puberty, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, menstrual cycle problems,
- Male - hypospadias, reduced development of gonads, lower testosterone level and sperm production, poor fertility
Children are borne pre-polluted - awash with pesticides in their mother's womb. They inhale or ingest more of these toxic chemicals than adults from food, water, air, and any surface they could touch, crawl or play on. Pesticides are used in farms, plantations, schools, and even homes.
However, government regulatory processes often overlook these effects. Toxicity studies and regulatory standards, already inadequate in evaluating their full adverse impacts, are premised on adults. Agriculture and health policies are based on myths that pesticides are necessary and that they can be safely used. However, successful agroecological non-pesticide approaches are practiced by tens of thousands of farmers across Asia. They not only lead healthier lives but they have improved livelihoods.
Children have the right to live in a healthy environment. They deserve to live in a world free from poisons. It is time we put an end to the use of highly hazardous pesticides.