Around 108 million children are engaged in agricultural work globally which exposes them to toxic agricultural chemicals. While working in the fields, they are very vulnerable to the hazards of pesticides and are at risk of inhaling and absorbing pesticides as they are sprayed, broadcast or sprinkled in the fields. Older children may also be spraying themselves.
Children can be the most vulnerable because they breathe more air, eat more food, and drink more water per unit of their body weight than adults, leading to greater exposure to a toxin-contaminated environment. Early-life exposure can damage the developing brain and body systems, disrupting mental and physiological growth that leads to a range of diseases and disorders. Public health experts now consider pesticides to be causing a silent pandemic through their neurodevelopmental impacts and adverse effects on the health and intelligence of children.
This session will focus on the impact of pesticides on children’s health and intelligence within several groups of children in India and Pakistan. It will share the work of the Thanal Trust in India and Khoj, the Society for People’s Education, in Pakistan, and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS Trust) in Malaysia on how they promote agroecology as an alternative to agricultural chemicals. We will hear from young people who have learnt and practised agroecological approaches in their rural communities for many years.