by Keith Tyrell, Director, PAN UK
A few weeks ago, Qu Dongyu, the Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced his intention to develop a new partnership with CropLife (the pesticides industry trade body) to transform agri-food systems. This marks a major departure for FAO, which has carefully guarded its impartiality and resisted the industry’s overtures in the past.
It seems that FAO is hoping that the deal will provide capital and new technologies for its work, but there is little objective scientific evidence that CropLife’s pesticides help farmers or contribute to food security. On the other hand, there is plenty of – and growing – evidence that these chemicals are having a devastating impact on biodiversity and human health.
If this partnership goes ahead, it will give CropLife’s companies greater access to new markets in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). Beth Bechdol, the FAO Deputy Director who negotiated the deal, said it would open “new channels of communication for private sector partners with FAO’s country offices and national governments”. In effect, this new deal would turn FAO into the marketing arm of the pesticide industry.