Protect Our Children Campaign

The Protect Our Children Campaign addresses the alarming increase in childhood diseases linked to the surge in synthetic pesticide use in the past few decades. With global pesticide consumption now at 2.3 million tonnes annually, 50 times more than in 1950, children are exposed to these toxic chemicals in various settings, including homes, schools, and public places. The campaign emphasizes the vulnerability of children to such exposure due to their higher rates of breathing, eating, and drinking relative to body weight.

Children face significant risks, as early-life exposure to pesticides can harm their developing brain, nervous system, and other physiological systems. The repercussions include birth defects, cognitive and behavioral issues, disruptions to hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems, as well as an increased risk of cancers and metabolic disorders. Furthermore, some disorders may manifest in adulthood, and certain effects can be passed on to successive generations. Scientific evidence indicates that even low-level pesticide exposure during pregnancy and early childhood poses a serious threat to children’s normal growth and health. The campaign underscores the urgent need to protect children from toxic pesticides to ensure their optimal physical and intellectual development.

However, the existing pesticide regulatory policies, standards, and practices worldwide do not adequately address this critical need. Current lax standards, often targeted at adults, fail to recognize that ‘children are not little adults.’ The campaign calls for a paradigm shift in regulatory approaches to safeguard children’s health, emphasizing the urgency of aligning policies with the unique vulnerabilities and needs of the younger population.

In collaboration with the Pesticide Action Network Asia-Pacific and Pesticide Action Network India, Thanal has been actively engaged in the Protect Our Children campaign, focusing on educating and empowering children to make informed choices about safe food options and protect themselves from toxic pesticides. Over the past three years, Thanal has mobilized thousands of children from across Kerala, conducting educational sessions and raising awareness among students, parents, and teachers alike.

Thanal has introduced students to the diverse food systems of Kerala, highlighting the region’s rich food culture and encouraging them to opt for safe and sustainable food choices. Furthermore, Thanal supports students in establishing kitchen gardens in their schools and homes, promoting hands-on learning experiences in agroecology farming practices. Moreover, Thanal organizes biodiversity monitoring activities to foster a deeper connection between children and nature, aiming to bring the future generation closer to the natural world.

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