Acute pesticide poisoning is a global public health problem and contributes to more than 3,00,000 deaths worldwide every year. In India. Pesticide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death of farmers with more than 6000 fatalities each year. Beyond the acute poisonings, there are long-term, chronic health effects such as cancer, Parkinson’s’ Disease, asthma, birth defects, and neurological harms, including developmental delays and learning disabilities. As pesticide-laden food continue to poison our planet, it is time to adopt solutions to free communities from pesticide use and exposure.
A healthy, fair and safe food system will protect us all from this acute poisoning while safeguarding the environmental health, economic needs and health of farmers and communities. To steer the shift from hazardous pesticide use to agroecology, we encourage the younger generation to be aware of the dangers of pesticides, to demand safe food through the PEDAL AGAINST POISON campaign.
Curtain Raiser Events
As a prelude to the launch of the Pedal Against Poison Campaign, a treasure hunt and drawing competition were organised on 13th March 2022 at Napier Museum Trivandrum. More than 120 students from around ten colleges participated in the various events organised. The treasure hunt spanned over areas in Trivandrum including Poojapurra MCF, Sanmati Park in Attakulangara, Connemara Market, Kanakakunnu and finally, ended at the Thanal Organic Bazaar in Kowdiar were tasked activities in ways that would spread awareness about the harmful effects of pesticides and promote organic farming. Participants distributing cloth bags to customers who had come to Connemara Market with plastic bags was well received and gained the attention of the general public.
In addition to the treasure hunt, a drawing contest was conducted for school students on the topic “ How Chemical pesticides affect humans and animals” to raise awareness on the impact of pesticides.
Pedal Against Poison Campaign Launch
As part of the campaign, a cycle rally led by ICE was flagged off from Kanakakkunnu palace by Sri. Brahmanayakom, a national level master trainer, on 20th March 2022. The Thanal teammates, ICE and Pheonix cycle club members rode on to Kovalam and visited certified organic farmers. More than 50 young and veteran cyclists alike toured organic farms and exchanged gifts and experiences with farmers.
The Pedal against poison campaign was officially inaugurated at State Central Library Hall on the same day evening by Sri Sudheer, Director, WIWA. The famous cartoonist and environmental champion Sri. Hari Charutha and Smt.Usha.S, Director, Thanal graced the occasion. Sri. Jayakumar, ED, Thanal, who presided over the meeting spoke about the invention of pesticides and their gradual penetration into our lives destroying our health and lives over the years. Sri. Sudhir talked about his journey from a journalist to an organic theatre and farming enthusiast. Sri. Hari Charutha elucidated how pedalling and cycling is connected to our philosophy and lives. Smt. Usha, who is a horticulturist and advocate of Organic farming strongly urged the audience to start discussions and forums advocating and demanding safe food for consumption.
After the speeches, the farmers were felicitated and prizes of curtain raiser events were distributed to the winners. After the formal meeting and experience sharing by the participants, the WIWA team performed Polivattom – an innovative folk drama that sheds light on our forgotten agricultural heritage and traditions.