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Heal Toxics is a member of the International POPs Elimination Network

This website provides resources on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and wastes. Valuable examples of community monitoring of health and environmental impacts of toxic chemicals are also furnished.

Further, there is an entire section devoted to chemical safety in its proper socio-political context or in relation to issues such as globalization and people's empowerment.

 

50 Years Is Enough for the World Bank and IMF

 

This week, a coalition of over 200 U.S. grassroots organizations have organized a series of events in Washington DC to protest the devastating effects of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank projects on developing countries. From April 21 - 25, 2004, the 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice coalition will lobby for transparency and accountability in the policies and practices of international financial institutions. Coalition members will also demonstrate how these institutions undermine sustainable development.

On April 21st an "Unhappy Birthday for the IMF and World Bank" demonstration was held, in which thousands of postcards urging debt cancellation and an end to debilitating structural adjustment policies were presented in front of World Bank and IMF offices. Other events include a vigil by the Religious Working Group on the World Bank and IMF with the title, "Cry of the People, Cry of the Earth: Will the World Bank and IMF Respond?" and the 50 Years Is Enough annual conference, whose theme this year is "Resisting Market Fundamentalism: Retirement Planning for the IMF and World Bank at 60."

PANNA's work monitoring pesticide reduction policies in World Bank agricultural projects corroborates the findings of the 50 Years Is Enough coalition. World Bank projects continue to promote the pesticide dependent, high input, industrialized agricultural systems advocated by the structural adjustment policies of both the IMF and the Bank. Nor does the World Bank meet its objectives of promoting "environmentally sound, financially and economically feasible, and socially acceptable means of economic development."

With specific reference to pesticides, five years after adopting a revised pest management policy to reduce farmers' reliance on pesticides and promote ecologically based integrated pest management (IPM), the Bank has largely failed to translate the policy into meaningful action. PANNA's new study, The Persistence of Pesticide Dependence: a review of World Bank projects and their compliance with the World Bank's Pest Management Policy, 1999-2003, found that only 9% of the 100 reviewed World Bank projects effectively incorporate IPM and are likely to be in compliance with Bank policy. The majority of World Bank projects relied on pesticides as the primary approach towards pest management or agricultural "intensification."

In addition to pesticides, the World Bank funds the research, development, field-testing and planting of genetically modified (GM) crops, despite multiple research findings indicating GM crops increase pesticide use, among other negative impacts. Recent internal World Bank documents indicate the Bank has already approved US$ 50 million in project loans for "agricultural biotechnologies," including funds to develop transgenic crops such as Bt. cotton and Bt. rice. A dozen or more World Bank funded projects, in Brazil, Indonesia, India, Peru, Romania, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Kenya refer specifically to agricultural biotechnology in project documents.

For example, the India National Technology Project (NATP) is a five-year, US$200 million project that allocates US$20 million to support the research and development of transgenic cotton, rice, sorghum, groundnut, chickpea and pigeon pea. NATP has published claims of substantial progress towards its goal of promoting "frontier technologies," including the creation of transgenic tobacco and groundnut plants.

As the 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice events highlight the negative impacts of IMF and World Bank policies on developing nations, PANNA urges the World Bank to support rural development strategies that empower rural communities to control their own resources and build on local agricultural knowledge and technology systems. Farming strategies that rely on local agricultural biodiversity and locally available inputs have been shown to increase farmers' profits, better protect the environment and biodiversity, and lower rural poverty levels. Overwhelming evidence from the field indicates that there are many better ways forward when it comes to sustainable agricultural development.

Sources: The Persistence of Pesticide Dependence: a review of World Bank projects and their compliance with the World Bank's Pest Management Policy, 1999-2003, PANNA, January 2004; India for a National Agricultural Technology Project. February 12, 1998. Report No. 7082-IN. World Bank: Washington DC, http://www.worldbank.org; Indian Council Agricultural Research (ICAR) Annual Report 2002-2003 and 2001-2002, http://www.icar.org.in./ India, the World Bank and GE crops. PANNA, Preliminary Research; World Bank Technical Briefing from the Vice President and Secretary, Biotechnology for Poverty Alleviation and Economic Growth: challenges and options for the World Bank, January 7, 2002.

 

 

©heal toxics, 2003
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