U.N. picture book warns 100 million child farm workers of pesticides

Thu May 14, 2015 11:30am EDT
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By Chris Arsenault

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new picture book aims to help show the nearly 100 million children who labor on farms how best to handle the toxic pesticides many are exposed to in their work.

The book, launched on Wednesday by two U.N. agencies, comes in four languages. The easy-to-follow pictures are adapted for audiences in eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Asia and Latin America.

"The colorful illustrations are built on local knowledge and refer to very concrete and real situations," Food and Agriculture Organization official Christine Fuell said in a statement.

"They also appeal to children, raising their own awareness of the risks posed by pesticides." The English title of the book is "Protect Children from Pesticides."

Nearly 100 million boys and girls between the ages of five and 17 work on farms, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Many are directly exposed to toxic pesticides while working; others come into contact with them when playing outside or through the food they eat, the ILO said.

The book will be distributed to rural teachers, farm workers and producer organizations to help reduce the risks and identify signs of toxic exposure when it happens.

In the book, one image marked "danger" shows a woman and child with sores on their arms and legs, pouring pesticides onto crops out of plastic bowls with no protective gear.   Continued...

A boy works at a poppy field in Jalalabad province April 7, 2013. REUTERS/Parwiz