Announced as an act of support for its constitutional commitment to food sovereignty, the Ecuadorian Congress banned an entire category of highly toxic pesticides, slated to take effect September 30, 2010. Ecuador cancelled the registration of all pesticides assessed by the World Health Organization to be extremely or highly hazardous (classes 1a and 1b), including many familiar and controversial pesticides that continue to be used in the U.S. such as the organophosphates and carbamates. These pesticides have recently been linked to increased rates of ADHD in levels found in the average diet of an American child, and have long been concerns of farmworkers and children’s health advocates. As of September 2010, Ecuador will prohibits the manufacture, formulation, import, commercialization and use of these pesticides. The decision impacts pesticides used in agriculture; agents used for human disease control are exempt. Dr. Monserrathe Bejarano, Executive Director of AGROCALIDAD, the federal Ecuadorian agency that oversees food and agriculture, signed the public statement and official record of decision.
Ecuador’s constitution establishes food sovereignty (in U.S. terms, food democracy) as a strategic objective of their nation – legal language plainly states that it is the obligation of the government to guarantee people and communities ongoing self-sufficiency through access to nutritious and culturally-appropriate foods. Impervious to industry claims that industrial agriculture is needed to “feed the world,” Ecuador sees the elimination of highly hazardous pesticides as key to secure and safe access to healthy, good food for the nation.