Friday, April 16, 2010

Badael-Alternatives بدائل

Today is Badael day: I wrote my editorial on "Deadly Banality"; how did the pesticide residues crisis start and how did it end. I have translated it below. Alam Khalil wrote about flower production in Addousiyyeh, South Lebanon and on Rose, a great women who,18692

Deadly banality

The sudden disappearance from the media of the issue of pesticide residues in food does not mean that the problem has been solved. Agrochemical companies are still promoting the intensive use of pesticides, governmental farm extension is still absent, as are the commandos of the Consumer Protection Directorate. All there is to the matter is that the issue of pesticide contamination has lost its attractiveness to the media and has been replaced by more important news such as sectarian football. It is now time for a calm assessment of the situation.

Intensive use of pesticides is associated with the replacement of the traditional systems of food production by capitalist agriculture, which considers natural resources as well as humans as free means of production that can be consumed and replaced in order to enhance «the productivity of modern agriculture». The use of pesticides is the cornerstone of this approach because its negative impacts on environment and health are not visible. Contaminated produce does not show signs of pollution and may even be more attractive to consumers as it looks “perfect”. This pushes farmers to use pesticides to improve the appearance of the product and «capture the market». On the other hand, attention must be paid to the radical differences the geographic and class distribution of the threat posed by pesticide residues, which we only started hearing about when it threatened the health of the urban rich who are able to raise their voices and protest. The core of the problem lies in rural areas, where farm workers are exposed daily to levels of pesticides that are several folds those that are found in food. Those same workers lack all forms of health insurance or other social coverage, because their employers must «reduce the cost of production». We should be fully aware that the adoption of apparently banal neoliberal slogans such as «raising productivity» and «capturing the market» and «reducing the cost of production», without laying the foundations for social justice, will not solve the problem of pesticides but will only lead to more social and environmental injustice. 

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