We do have serious problems…
I understand my role as keynote speaker is not to load and probably bore you with lots of facts, statistics and tables, but much rather to deliver a straight forward challenge and to give "food for thought". I also prefer clear language, instead of being unclear as to where I and the organic movement stand!
Having been part of the organic agriculture movement for more than 20 years I come to the conclusion that governments, international institutions such as FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), UNEP (United Nation Environmental Programme) and the CSD (Committee for Sustainable Development) and their programmes do not adequately address pestcide risks.
They fail to realise and appreciate the contribution of organic farming as a truly sustainable form of agriculture.
It is obvious and inarguable that the most effective way to reduce the risk of pesticides is not use them-and this is precisely what organic agriculture practices successfully on millions of hectares of land all over the world.
My lobbying activities have shown me again and again that in the debate of pesticide risk reduction a curative (fixing the problem) approach prevails.
The organic farming message and practice is clear: avoiding problems is much better than "fixing" the problem.
Instead of this logic approach the most favoured solution appears to be integrated pest management (IPM). Organic agriculture seems to be too much of a challenge for this narrow-minded approach.
When I reflect about the hopes and expectations on IPM to solve these problems, a poem from Berthold Brecht comes to my mind.
Given the fact that Brecht is probably the most popular playwright in the world and that we are celebrating his 100th birthday this year it seems appropriate to share with you part of his poem "Exile", which was written in 1938 when he was in exile from the Nazi terror in Germany.
"…they were sawing the branches on ..which they were sitting, and they shouted to each other, how one could saw faster, and when with a crash they fell down those watching them shook their heads. and kept on sawing."
"Exile" by Berthold Brecht (1938)
If I take this picture and set it in relation to IPM strategies, I feel that IPM at most means reducing the chain saw speed or maybe changing to a hand saw.
Yet, it does not really stop the sawing and it will not avoid the branches eventually crashing.
The environmental problems that accompany the use of pesticides are very serious, as pointed out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) "Statistics Quarterly" which states that as many as 25 million agricultural workers in the developing world may suffer at least one incident of pesticide poisoning - each year! This fact alone indicates