Pesticide Action Week: Say NO to pesticides

Table of contents 






What is the pesticide week?

The Pesticide Action Week is an annual campaign taking place from March 20th to 30th that aims

  • to raise awareness on the health and environment risks of synthetic pesticides
  • to highlight alternative solutions
  • to build a global grassroots movement for a pesticide-free world

With the continuing success of the original French campaign that has been running since 2006, the campaign aims at building an even bigger and stronger movement in new countries throughout Europe and globally every year. In 2011, 16 countries took part in the event:

  • In Europe : Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Spain, Switzerland
  • In Africa : Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia

What it is about?

In 2011, the Pesticide Action Week represented nearly a thousand grassroots events across several countries: conferences, film shows, theatre shows, outings, open doors, exhibitions, workshops, information booths, farmer markets, organic meals … and hundreds of media hits!

These events are led by hundreds of citizens, associations, farmers, companies, teachers, local governments...

The event takes place from 20th to 30th March, with 20th March being the first day of spring. We want to call for a pesticide free spring as spring is the main period for spraying pesticides.

More information of the campaign at:

Who is exposed to pesticides?

All of us are exposed directly or indirectly to pesticides and further agrochemicals simply via the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe and the products we use for gardening and in the household.

Young children especially are exposed to pesticides because they play outside on the ground with their hands and mouths being in direct contact with potential contaminated surfaces, which then penetrate into the body.

Farmers, people employed in the agricultural sector and their families are in direct contact with chemicals.

Why are pesticides dangerous?

Pesticides can have serious impacts on our health affecting all of us.
Vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children especially are at risk.
Many scientific studies reveal that there could be a link between the exposure to pesticides and several forms of cancer, leukemia, disruption of the endocrine, immune or neural system.

What are the health impacts?

  • Cancer
  • Neurodevelopment disorders (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, learning disabilities, sensory deficits and developmental delays)
  • Infertility, endocrine disruption, reproduction problems (disruption of the hormonal system, DNA deregulation)
  • Malformations of embryos
  • Thyroid disfunction

Why are pregnant women and children even more at risk?

The brain and neural system development of children and fetus are more susceptible to damages than adults. It is estimated that one in every six children has a developmental disability. In most cases the nervous system is affected, with consequences such as e.g. learning disabilities, sensory deficits and developmental delays.

There is an increased risk of childhood cancer and neurodevelopment disorders for people whose mothers, when they were pregnant, were exposed to pesticides.
Some pesticides could also affect the hormonal balance in our bodies. They are known as endocrine disruptors. This has an impact on our reproduction capacity and in could lead to spontaneous abortion in pregnant women and possibly prolong time-to-pregnancy.

What about current risk assessments?

Although the EU progressively prohibits pesticides known to be dangerous for our health and also regulates the maximum residue levels of pesticides in consumption products, we are still exposed to numerous pesticides, which, even at low level, could affect our health.

The pesticides risk assessment procedures decide about the authorisation of each active ingredient. However, the current risk assessments are inadequate since they only give an approximation of the real risks, by often not taking into consideration the risks posed by the accumulation and combination of different substances.
Moreover, the risk assessments also lack sufficient testing for certain toxic elements.This is why we are still at risk and why we need more precaution.