Severe consequences

385 million people around the world suffer pesticide poisoning - per year.
An international code of conduct of the World Health Organization is intended to improve the worldwide handling of pesticides and prevent poisoning. But in the absence of legislation, little is happening.

Studies show that occupational pesticide poisonings have been rising sharply for years. In 1990, for example, it was estimated that there were about one million cases of pesticide poisoning with serious consequences each year, including 20,000 deaths. If we add to this the cases with a milder course, we arrive at a figure of 25 million poisonings in the occupation. One reason for the increase to 385 million is probably that more and more pesticides are being used around the world. In 2017, about 80 percent more pesticides were used than in 1990, and in some regions of the world the increase is even more pronounced. In South America, for example, the increase was almost 500 percent over the same period, while Europe saw a decline of 3 percent.

Pesticide poisonings per year, study from 2020

yellow = deadly poisonings

pink = non-deadly poisonings

Pesticide poisonings

Graphic: Pestizidatlas, Eimermacher/Puchalla, CC BY 4.0

Poisoning affects 44 percent of all agricultural workers worldwide - and as many as 83 percent in poorer countries such as Burkina Faso.

In order to reduce the high number of pesticide poisonings, the WHO, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has adopted a code of conduct for the handling of pesticides. However, these recommendations have hardly been implemented so far and have not been placed on a binding legal basis.