WHO asks for the most toxic pesticides to be banned

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a ban on those pesticides that are more toxic to humans and which remain for longer in the environment, as well as to protect public health by establishing maximum residue limits for pesticides in food and water.

More than 1,000 pesticides are used worldwide to prevent pests from spoiling or destroying food, although the toxicity of each depends on its purpose and other factors. For example, insecticides are often more toxic to humans than herbicides.

Also, the same product may cause different effects depending on the dose or on the way of exposure (either by ingestion, inhalation or direct contact with the skin).

The people who are most at risk are those who are directly exposed to pesticides, such as agricultural workers who apply pesticides and people in neighbouring areas at the time when they are applied or shortly thereafter.

However, the general population that is not in the area where the pesticides are used is also exposed to these products, albeit to much lower quantities, because residual amounts may be present in the food and water they ingest.

Voluntary poisoning
In this regard, the WHO has warned that pesticides are a leading cause of death from voluntary poisoning, especially in low- and middle-income countries. "Because they are intrinsically toxic and are deliberately spread in the environment, their production, distribution and use must be governed by strict controls and regulations. Moreover, it is necessary to regularly monitor their residues in food," they explained.

The United Nations Population Division has estimated that, by 2050, the world population will reach 9.7 billion people; 30 percent more than in 2017, and the vast majority of this population growth will occur in developing countries.

Likewise, according to forecasts by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 80 percent of the increase in food production needed to cope with this population growth in developing countries will be achieved thanks to increased crop yields and increased annual harvests on the same soil. Therefore, only 20 percent of the growth in food production will come from the expansion of farmland.

"Pesticides will continue to be used because they can prevent significant crop losses, but their effects on people and the environment are a permanent concern." The use of pesticides to produce food, both for local consumption and for export, must comply with good agricultural practices, regardless of the economic situation of the country. "Producers should not apply more quantities of these products than necessary to protect their crops," concluded the WHO.

Source: Europa Press

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