While it’s widely publicized that humanity needs pesticides to ensure everyone gets fed, a new report by United Nations food and pollution experts says this is actually a myth. According to The Guardian, the report denounces corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of “systematic denial of harms,” “aggressive, unethical marketing,” and lobbying governments heavily to obstruct reforms and global pesticide restrictions. The report goes on to say that pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole,” while doing nearly nothing to combat world hunger.

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As The Guardian notes, the pesticide industry says its products are extremely important when it comes to protecting crops and keeping food supplies adequate. It’s also a market worth $50 billion a year, which annually kills roughly 200,000 people from acute poisoning.

But according to UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilial Elver, the industry’s claims to its products’ importance are largely false. “It is a myth,” Elver says. “Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”

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Elver adds that the majority of pesticides are used on commodity crops like palm oil and soy, none of which does much to feed people experiencing hunger. The corporations are not dealing with world hunger, they are dealing with more agricultural activity on large scales,” Elver says.

At the same time, the report notes that proving the adverse health effects of pesticides on humans remains difficult: “While scientific research confirms the adverse effects of pesticides, proving a definitive link between exposure and human diseases or conditions or harm to the ecosystem presents a considerable challenge. This challenge has been exacerbated by a systematic denial, fueled by the pesticide and agro-industry, of the magnitude of the damage inflicted by these chemicals, and aggressive, unethical marketing tactics.”

Via The Guardian

Images via Zeynel Cebeci and US Navy, Wikimedia Commons