The pesticide industry is big business, with annual sales of over 30 billion US dollars. The industry claims that it works hard to encourage responsible usage. But there are an estimated 25 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year and nearly all the victims are in the developing countries. Joining Russ Dilts of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation on a fact finding mission, Earth Report picks up the start of the ‘toxic trail’ in Thailand, where some pesticides, banned in neighbouring Cambodia, can be produced legally. From here we cross the border into Cambodia to find that farmers are avidly applying pesticides completely unaware of the dangers or the need to take safety precautions. Amongst farmers the symtoms of poisoning are all too common and toxic residues on food are high. Now rural development workers are spreading the message that pesticides need to be handled with extreme caution.
Films in this series