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World Bank Still Pushes Pesticides

Pesticide Action Network Updates Service
September 22, 2003

World Bank officials gather this week for the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund's (IMF)
annual meetings in Dubai, where they will review
loan and development policies that dramatically
affect the wealth and daily life of many nations of
the global South. The strong resistance from
Third World nations that flared at the World Trade
Organization meetings in Cancun just two weeks ago
may or may not resurface in Dubai, but as World
Bank officials claim their lending practices will
improve the lives of the rural poor and protect
the environment, evidence from the ground tells a
far different story.

Two recent PANNA reports point to the World
Bank's failure to implement its mandatory policy on
pest management and reduce Third World farmers'
dependence on pesticides. In the late 90s, the World
Bank designated its pest management policy and
several other environmental and social policies as
"Safeguard Policies," intended to protect the
environment and vulnerable populations from adverse
effects of Bank lending -- the "do no harm"
principle. Yet as the PANNA reports show, in the five
years since the Bank's adoption of Operational
Policy 4.09 on Pest Management (OP 4.09), the Bank
has made little progress in putting those words
into practice.

OP 4.09 requires the Bank to support farmers'
shift from pesticides towards ecologically sound
alternatives such as integrated pest management
(IPM). Field monitoring and project reviews conducted
by PANNA and local partners, however, found
widespread violations of the Bank's pest management
policy and identified a number of projects in which
farmers reported pesticide poisonings and deaths
in their communities, as well as wildlife loss
and contamination of natural resources. As Lu
Caizhen, monitor of a World Bank project in China
noted, "We say there are two ways to die in China:
starve to death or be poisoned to death by

In The Struggle to Reduce Reliance on Pesticides:
can community-based monitoring improve policy
compliance? PANNA documents the experiences of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Indonesia,
China and Mexico monitoring World Bank project
impacts on their communities and environments, and
focusing on pesticide use and pest management

In all three countries, PANNA and our NGO
partners found the World Bank projects were out of
compliance with OP 4.09. Rather than helping farmers
reduce their reliance on pesticides, the projects
either supplied "technology packages" that
included pesticides or placed no restrictions on the
use of World Bank funds to purchase pesticides.
NGOs and community groups in the three countries
reviewed project documents and conducted
participatory exercises and interviews with community
members and local officials to evaluate the projects'
level of compliance with OP 4.09. Most reviews
revealed an urgent need for project corrections, and
monitors presented project officials with
concrete and realistic recommendations on how to improve
project implementation.

Lu Caizhen explained, "One of the important
things about this monitoring project was that the
World Bank got to hear the voices of the local
people. The farmers told the World Bank officials that
they don't like using pesticides, and they know
that pesticides can impact their health and the
environment, but they felt they had no choice. Once
the farmers learned what IPM was and that the
World Bank policy requires projects to promote it,
they were eager to get IPM training."

However, the Bank's slow progress in responding
to reports of policy violations led local NGOs to
question the Bank's commitment to its own
policies. Nila Ardhianie, lead monitor in Indonesia,
commented, "Sometimes it seems like World Bank
officials live in a different world, a world where
they cannot see us and the daily reality that people
face. I wonder how they can believe the official
reports [they get from Bank project staff] when
serious problems in a project are so easily
covered up."

A second PANNA report reviewed project documents
for more than 100 World Bank projects likely to
affect pesticide use, and found that only 9%
effectively employed IPM practices and complied with
the Banks own pesticide policies. 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 a
number of Bank projects that finance pesticide
purchases and yet provide farmers with no training on
their environmental or health hazards or ecological
alternatives. Only 35% of reviewed projects
mentioned IPM, but most did not provide a detailed
pest management plan as required by policy. Where
IPM plans were described, these plans typically
lacked sufficient depth or resources to ensure
lasting impact or contradicted the project's broader
goals of increased input use.

The report blames the World Bank's emphasis on
agricultural intensification and export-oriented
production instead of small-scale sustainable
agriculture using few pesticides, fertilizers or
external inputs as the central barrier to adoption of
meaningful, ecologically-based IPM in Bank
projects. Compounding the problem is Bank staff's weak
understanding of IPM and the requirements of OP
4.09. The Bank's own systems of monitoring,
supervision and oversight are still ineffective and a
recently proposed overhaul of its Safeguard
Policies could be a major step back from the Bank's
stated commitment to basic social and environmental

A summary of the PANNA report was published in
the August 2003 Global Pesticide Campaigner and the
full report will be on the PANNA web site in
October, 2003. The community monitoring report, The
Struggle to Reduce Reliance on Pesticides is now
on the PANNA web site.

Sources: The Struggle to Reduce Reliance on
Pesticides: can community-based monitoring improve
policy compliance, PANNA, June, 2003; 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,
October 2003; Global Pesticide Campaigner, PANNA,
August 2003, and April 2001.

Contact: PANNA

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing
resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues
that don't always get coverage by the mainstream
media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network
North America, a non-profit and non-governmental
organization working to advance sustainable
alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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Best results 23.Sep.2003 04:15


Pesticides are the best way to get rid of persistent pests, like indigenous farmers.