PANUPS: PAN Meeting in Cuba

                         P A N U P S
                   Pesticide Action Network 
                        North America
                       Updates Service

June 5, 1997

Fourth International Meeting of PAN Highlights Campaigns and 

Over one hundred activists, researchers and government 
officials from more than 40 countries gathered in Santa 
Clara, Cuba from May 18-22, 1997 for the fourth international 
meeting of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN). PAN is an 
international coalition of over 400 activist groups, 
coordinated by five regional centers.

The PAN meeting was a historic juncture of the international 
pesticide reform movement and related movements including 
organic agriculture, food security, and farmers' and women's 
rights. Activists from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North, 
Central and South America represented many aspects of the 
struggles for environmentally sound and socially just food 
and fiber production. 

Presentations and workshops addressed the need to expand PAN 
groups' participation in international conventions and policy 
initiatives; to increase the availability of information on 
health and environmental impacts of pesticides, especially in 
the South; to strengthen efforts to regulate the global 
pesticide trade; and to address threats to sustainable 
agriculture from the agrochemical and biotechnology 
industries. Participants also focused on promoting socially 
just and sustainable pest management through local, national 
and international institutions. In addition, meeting 
participants developed a new PAN international campaign, 
"Feeding the World Without Poisons," as a framework for 
diverse activities of NGOs working to improve pest management 
practices, upgrade pesticide legislation, respond to 
international trade regulation and promote alternatives to 

The PAN meeting began with a field trip highlighting the 
widespread implementation of organic and low input 
sustainable agriculture in Cuba, and was attended by more 
than a dozen Cuban representatives of research, teaching and 
farming groups assisting their country's dramatic conversion 
to ecologically sound agriculture. Cuba is in the midst of 
the most comprehensive conversion from conventional 
agriculture to organic or semi-organic farming ever attempted 
by a national government. Following the dissolution of the 
socialist trading bloc in the early 1990s, imports of 
pesticides, fertilizers, petroleum and animal feed to Cuba 
dropped by well over 50%; food imports fell dramatically as 
well. Cuban researchers and farmers are now working to 
replace their former heavy dependence on imported farm 
machinery, chemical inputs and food and are instead building 
on their long experience with biocontrol. They are increasing 
yields through use of animal traction, crop and pasture 
rotations, polyculture, soil conservation, organic soil 
amendments, biological pest control and a rapidly expanding 
organic urban agricultural sector. 

PAN meeting participants also considered the recent outbreaks 
in Cuba of the exotic crop pest Thrips palmi following the 
aerial release of an unconfirmed substance over Cuba airspace 
by a plane registered to the U.S. State Department in October 
1996. Meeting participants issued a statement calling for an 
immediate, thorough and transparent United Nations 
investigation of Cuban government allegations filed with the 
UN in March 1997 that this pest was intentionally released in 
an act of "biological aggression" against Cuba. 

PAN's Fourth International Meeting in Cuba was co-sponsored 
by Food First, a California-based NGO working on food 
security and organic agriculture issues, and was organized in 
association with the Third International Organic Agriculture 
Conference of the Cuban Association of Organic Agriculture 
(ACAO). The first, second and third PAN International 
meetings took place in The Netherlands, Canada and Malaysia, 
respectively, and the fifth is planned to be in Senegal in 
2000. Conference proceedings for both the fourth PAN 
International and the ACAO conference are under preparation 
and will be available later this year (ordering information 
will be published in the PANUPS Resource Pointer).

For information about the ACAO Organic Agriculture 
Conference, contact: ACAO, Tulipan 1011 e/Loma y 47; Apdo. 
Postal 6236, Codigo Postal 10600, Nuevo Vedado, La Habana, 
Cuba; phone (53-7) 811 448.

For information about Food First, contact:
Food First, Institute for Food and Development
398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618; phone (510) 654-4400; fax 
(510) 654-4551; email foodfirst@igc.org.

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