This is definitely true. The World Health Organisation estimates that 20,000 to 40,000 people die from accidental pesticide poisoning each year, most of them in developing countries. It is safe to assume that many of them are cotton farmers. The full and exact extent of this phenomenon is unknown as it is has never been monitored globally. However, a Pesticide Action Network survey documented 65 deaths in only two districts of Benin during the 2001 cotton growing season; 10 were children under 10.
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Living with Poison
PN 85 article Pesticide poisoning in West Africa