Roadmap for No Pesticides on Our Plate

  1. Under the scope of the 3rd Agenda of the 34th United Nations Human Rights Council Meeting held in 2017, also emphasized by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, in order to move away from an industrial agro-chemical-addicted agricultural system, it is necessary to have a political will that re-evaluates the interests, incentives and power-relations which support this addiction and to successfully campaign against these. If we want to move away from the pesticide-dependent industrial food production system, we need to fight against agricultural policies’, trade systems’, as well as companies’ effects on public policy.
  2. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should adopt a mission for a pesticide-free agriculture and food sector, and develop policies focusing on this endeavour. The Ministry should develop a full-scale national action plan, which includes incentives for environmentally safe practices and techniques alternative to agricultural pesticides, as well as developing measurable, binding reduction targets with deadlines, aiming to reduce pesticide use.
  3. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should form an unbiased, independent committee, including representatives of non-governmental organisations, which in turn should assign an independent and technically adequate organisation to carry out a ‘‘plant protection sector analysis’’.
  4. Based on ecosystem functions and mechanisms, and taking into account the climate crisis, water scarcity, protection and regeneration of biodiversity and physical resources in a wholistic approach, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should develop environmentally sound agricultural policies.
  5. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should also take into account the comprehensive, independent, holistic research that is being carried out, in order to better understand the long-term effects of pesticide use, prioritizing adequate knowledge and experience in all of its organizational levels. Effects of pesticides, especially, long-term effects of pesticide formulations and metabolites and interaction of multiple pesticide residues on human health, particularly on agricultural workers, pregnant women, young children and infants, and also on biodiversity and ecosystem functions, should be analysed. Beyond existing research on pesticides’ endocrine disruption, immunotoxic and neurotoxic effects, their costs on human health, biodiversity, climate and ecosystem should also be researched, and policy-makers should be adequately informed when making decisions on these matters, making sure the relevant research is incorporated into the legislation and practical applications. Thus, to achieve these goals, cooperation with non-governmental organizations should be intensified.
  6. It must be ensured that, research and development on pesticide-free and eco-friendly agricultural inputs, techniques and methods, and other relevant studies, are scaled up and run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, universities and private sector, making sure adequate budget and resources are allocated for these actions. Pioneering producers and producer organizations should actively participate in these R&D studies. Agroecological science and applications, namely, operating, designing and managing sustainable agricultural ecosystems based on scientific ecological knowledge, including local/traditional knowledge and methods, should be central to this R&D.
  7. Information derived from new models, systems, techniques and methods should be demonstrated to the producers in the field and new demonstration sites should be developed by the organizational departments of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
  8. During the transition phase necessary to achieve pesticide elimination goals, it is imperative to fully comply with the legislation; legislative pesticide authorization procedures should be carried out perfectly, and pesticide alternatives should be considered when demanding pesticide bans. Organic, conservative, regenerative agriculture, holistic management, cultural applications, mechanical, physical, biological and bio-technical control and other similar methods and techniques should be encouraged and incentivized. Farmers who use these methods should be aided and financially supported by input subsidies, and through positive discrimination for marketing their produce. Producer-to-consumer direct supply chains should be developed for these farmers. Policies and strategies that focus on protecting small-scale subsistence farmers and profitability of family businesses, and conserving input resources feeding these producers, as well as supporting them socially and culturally, encouraging them to organize and join forces, should be developed. To that end, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should cooperate with the Ministry of Trade and local governments.
  9. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry needs to raise consumer awareness regarding the adverse effects of pesticides, as well as healthy agriculture and food production methods and techniques; and contribute towards creating demand for products grown with alternative methods, systems, techniques and practices. To this end, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should cooperate with the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, the Ministry of Trade, local governments and non-governmental organizations.
  10. Policies, strategies, plans and programmes, legislations, projects, applications and studies that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will undertake, should follow a more democratic, participatory and transparent process. In this regard, all testing, research conclusions, reports, risk evaluation policies and applications concerning pesticide authorization, licensing and control, should take into account the public opinion and the input of non-governmental organisations, and all monitoring and inspection results and pesticide use data for agricultural and food products should be made available to the public with as much detail as possible. For that purpose, consumers should be informed through local-scale briefing campaigns.
  11. Extent of inspections should be widened to cover both quantity and quality. In order to be able to ensure the monitoring of pesticide use, marketing and monitoring of plant protection products should be based on barcoded digital tracking and integrated into the farmer registration system. This would prevent farmers from using unnecessary amounts of pesticides as well. Actions towards this goal should include measures for protecting the public’s right to information.
  12. Most of our farmers are far from using the pesticides safely. They should be informed about the dangers of pesticides, and precautionary measures should be taken for realistic and implementable risk reduction.
  13. Safety tests for active substances in pesticides are carried out by the manufacturers themselves or by their sub-contracting companies. Agricultural control chemicals should be tested for safety not by the agro-chemical industry, but by an independent body. Safety tests required for an authorization process should have the proper qualitative and quantitative standards to ensure the highest level of protection of public health, biodiversity and natural resources. Research and safety tests evaluating pesticides’ endocrine disruption, immunotoxic and neurotoxic properties, as well as long-term effects of pesticide formulations and their adjuvants, bulking agents and inert ingredients, including multiple-residue interactions, should certainly be carried out. Risk evaluation policies should be developed publicly, independent of the industry, and prioritize a healthy environment for all living beings, including humans. Again, the risk evaluation methodology should be developed publicly, with no interference from the industry. All results obtained from these processes and studies should be shared and made available to the public opinion.
  14. An active substance should only be authorized under these circumstances: if extensive scientific evidence proves that the chemical substance in question does not have any harmful effects on human health, the environment and the safety of all living beings; if all uses of the substance in question, suggested by the industry, is found to be safe by an independent committee with representatives from non-governmental organizations, established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; and, if there are no safer alternatives.
  15. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should manage actions for identifying pesticides that are not effective against pests which have developed resistance to these chemicals. Priority should be given to banning the 13 pesticides in the scope of our campaign (difenacoum, ethoprophos, cyfluthrin, beta-cyfluthrin, zeta-cypermethrin, fenamiphos, formetanate X formetanate hydrochloride, methiocarb, methomyl, tefluthrin, zinc phosphide, glyphosate, malathion), because of their proven adverse effects, and because their target pests’ acquired resistance to the active substances.
  16. Pesticide taxes, export tariffs and pesticide use charges should be implemented.
  17. All pesticides should be banned by 2030; meanwhile, above-mentioned steps should be taken, and the ‘‘no pesticides on our plate’’ target should be incorporated into the core policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.