Women are more exposed to the dangers of pesticides

Home Women are more exposed to the dangers of pesticides
Written by Doug Hampton

(ETX Daily Up) – If the Atlas of Pesticides, published for the first time in French, reveals the crops that are most widely sprayed in France, this fascinating document points to another problem of international scope: gender inequalities in exposure to pesticide hazards.

When we talk about agriculture, we often have in mind the image of the man who cultivates the fields and his wife who manages the house and the accounts. However, if the patterns of life of farming couples are much more nuanced than this cliché, there is a reality regarding the use of pesticides: women are more exposed to the dangers of chemical products when we consider the problem on the scale of the planet.

The Atlas of Pesticides, concocted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Friends of the Earth Europe, BUND, the Pesticide Action Network Europe and La Fabrique ecological, addresses this thorny question that is often underreported when nearly 70% of female employees in South Asia south and more than 60% in sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture. “Their participation in this sector is undoubtedly underestimated”, even indicates this document rich in key figures and infographics, adding that “subsistence agriculture, unpaid family tasks and seasonal work, which are often the responsibility of women and girls, are generally not taken into account”.

Concretely, we are talking about coffee plantations in South Africa, banana plantations in Costa Rica or fields of flower cultivation in Kenya. In the latter case, the Atlas gives a very concrete example of how women are exposed to the dangers of pesticides in insidious ways. They take care of weeding if not preparing the flowers, cutting them and packing them, and no protective equipment is provided for them. Women “show symptoms of poisoning more often than men, responsible for spraying pesticides”, reveals the document.

Vulnerable due to lack of literacy and training

The other problem is the lack of education. In Nepal, 75% of women working in agriculture cannot read or understand the toxicity of products relayed by labels. However, they are 66% to decide on the use of pesticides. In fact, girls and women are vulnerable to this use because their literacy rate is lower and their access to training is more limited. This gender inequality in the face of the dangers of pesticides is a serious health problem because a woman’s body is not exposed in the same way as a man’s. “Because females generally have a higher proportion of fat mass, they are more likely to store pollutants that accumulate in fatty tissue,” the Atlas reveals. Moreover, they are more vulnerable to products identified as endocrine disruptors. For what ? Women have “more hormone-sensitive tissues”. For the environmental associations and organizations for the defense of the environment who wrote this report, the use of pesticides is not unrelated to the development of endometriosis, this disease which can cause intense pain during menstrual periods and ‘infertility. This reality is all the more a problem since it is estimated that 385 million acute and unintentional pesticide poisonings occur each year. “However, the figures do not allow an estimation of the incidence rate of these poisonings among women, because occupational health research lacks sex-disaggregated data and gender perspectives,” warns the Atlas.

First published last October as specified by Euractiv, the media specializing in European affairs, this Atlas of pesticides is rich in lessons in more ways than one, because this time it has just been published in French. . Data specific to tricolor agriculture have thus been added. It should be noted that France is the third largest consumer of pesticides in Europe. Of the 453 products approved by the European Union, it uses 291, compared to 298 in Greece and 296 in Spain. Finally, we get a concrete idea of ​​the crops that are most widely spread, namely in order apples, peaches, potatoes, vines, tomatoes, apricots, leeks, plum, cherry and carrot.

Leave a Comment