Agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, peasant farmers, and their families face extreme poverty, and often lack access to clean drinking water, adequate food, education, and healthcare. In addition, they experience the greatest exposure to highly hazardous pesticides in the agricultural fields, which in many cases surround their living compounds. Toxic injuries, deadly and impairing diseases linked to pesticides have been documented among workers and rural communities worldwide.
Agriworkers, indigenous peoples, peasant farmers, including women and children are exposed to pesticides in different ways: mixing or applying pesticides, planting, weeding, harvesting. Also, they breathe pesticides in the air and often drink water tainted with pesticides from runoff water out of the fields. In the Asia Pacific, agricultural workers and farmers report that they experience itchiness, skin rashes, dizziness, and eye irritation after spraying pesticides. Personal protection equipment (PPE) is lacking, because it is not affordable and given the hot and humid climatic conditions of the region, PPE is unpractical to wear. PPE is not a solution when it comes to protecting the lives and health of workers and rural communities.
The industrial model of agriculture, pushed by the agrochemical transnational corporations are infringing on the rights of agricultural workers, peasant farmers, women, and children (link to PPT Indictment). The exposure of agriworkers, peasants, and rural communities to hazardous pesticides that can cause imparing diseases under conditions of use is a violation of the FAO Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (link to PAN AP’s module on FAO Code of Conduct when it is ready to be uploaded).
The Coalition of Agricultural Workers International has been formed to address the problems faced by agricultural workers and peasants and to support their struggles.