Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International launched December 3 as the “Global No Pesticides Use Day” in 1998, to commemorate the world’s worst chemical and industrial disaster in 1984. A Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal(India) exploded and released a lethal gas (methyl isocyanate) that causing more than 500,000 injured and 20,000 deaths in the years since. Cases of chronic illnesses are still mounting among survivors to this day.
This year marks the 26th year of the Bhopal tragedy, and partners in India, besides drawing attention to the dangers of pesticides, will also be highlighting the continuing inability of the concerned governments in bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice. Union Carbide has since been bought by Dow Chemicals, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of chemicals and pesticides.
PAN International has highlighted the tragedy of Bhopal as an example of a tragic instance of chemical pesticide contamination for which its victims continue to suffer to this day. Bhopal has been called the worst commercial industrial disaster in history - but not the last. Around the world the ongoing manufacture, distribution, and use of chemical pesticides continues to wreak devastating impacts on people and the environment. While acute cases of pesticide poisoning are a concern, the chronic long-term effects such as cancers; and endocrine disrupting effects are of increasing concern.
Since 3rd December 1998, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) has organized campaigns and activities along with its partners from 8 countries and local community advocates to commemorate the disaster and raise public awareness on the adverse effects of pesticides. The activities expose the hazards and risks of pesticide use in agriculture, the conditions of pesticide use in developing countries in the Asia Pacific Region as well as promote sustainable alternatives and farming practices without pesticides.
In previous years, this campaign was known as No Pesticides Use Day (NPUD). After much discussion during the Pesticides Task Force meeting in March 2010, it was decided to extend the campaign for a week. So, the No Pesticides Use Week (NPUW) campaign starts from 3rd December culminating on the 10th of December - the World Human Rights Day. All campaign activities will be held within this week.