Notes to broadcasters on food-storage pesticides:

    | May 26, 2008

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    The story of more than 100 students from the Government Girls Secondary School in
    Gombe State being rushed to hospital after eating poisoned beans captured the nation of Nigeria’s attention. But as frightening as the situation was, it represented only a small fraction of the number of acute pesticide poisonings that happen every day – in Nigeria and around the world. Estimates of the number of people who die each year from acute pesticide poisoning vary between 200,000 and 300,000. Millions more suffer illnesses from direct exposure to pesticides.

    Acute pesticide poisoning is often the result of pesticides being improperly applied by farmers, traders, or other people attempting to prevent pest damage during storage. The wrong pesticides are not only dangerous to consumers – they may also be ineffective in preventing pest damage. Our news story offers some basic guidelines for farmers who use pesticides to store food. For more information on steps farmers can take to reduce health risks to themselves, their community, and consumers, please consult the following guides:
    “Preventing health risks from the use of pesticides in agriculture” (posted on the World Health Organization website)
    “Risks and consequences of the misuse of pesticides in the treatment of stored products” (posted on the UN Food and Agriculture Organization website)

    For radio spots on pesticide safety and scripts on organic alternatives to food-storage pesticides, please see the following:
    “Protect your health and the community from agricultural pesticides and fertilizers” (Package 83, Script 4, March 2008)
    “Powder of little pepper protects stored rice” (Package 81, Script 2, August 2007)
    “A local plant prevents pest damage to stored seeds” (Package 81, Script 1, August 2007)
    ”Protect stored grain from beetle damage” (Package 72, Script 7, September 2004)

    Finally, here are two ideas for radio programs designed to raise awareness of safe pesticide practices for stored food:
    1) Contact local hospitals, clinics, or other health organizations to find out how often acute pesticide poisoning happens in your area. What kinds of pesticides cause poisonings in your area and how do victims come into contact with them? Next, speak with representatives from farmers’ organizations, an agricultural extension officer, or an expert on food safety. What steps do they advise farmers, traders, and consumers to take to prevent similar poisonings in the future?
    2) Ask farmers’ organizations if any farmers in your area have successfully used organic methods of protecting stored food. Consider creating a program on effective alternatives to food-storage pesticides, modeled on one of the scripts listed above.