PHM-Exch> Fwd: Joint Statement by WABA and PANAP for World Environment Day 2017

Claudio Schuftan cschuftan at
Mon Jun 5 03:20:59 PDT 2017

From: Pei Ching Chuah <peiching.chuah at>

Joint Statement by WABA and PANAP for World Environment Day 2017 Protecting
our first food and mother earth

In any journey it is the first step that counts. Breastfeeding is one of
the first and practical step that we must take to protect not only the
health of babies and mothers but also the health of our planet – right from
the start by providing green and sustainable nourishment to babies.
Exploring ways to promote sustainable food consumption and production
patterns is paramount to mitigate environmental degradation and climate

The theme of World Environment Day 2017 “Connecting People to Nature” is an
excellent way to get people to think of how interconnected we are with
nature.  We are all part of nature and we depend on it for our survival,
thus need to appreciate its beauty and importance, and take forward the
call to protect the Earth that we rely upon. Unfortunately, the current
reality is that environmental pollutants are causing harm to us and we are
all carrying the toxic burden of industrial and agricultural toxins along
with other dangerous substances in our bodies. These chemicals also pass
through the placenta and into the fetus during pregnancy, and through
breastmilk after birth [1]. However, according to the World Health
Organisation (WHO) the advantages of breastfeeding far outweigh the
potential risks from environmental pollutants. Taking into account
breastfeeding’s short- and long-term health benefits for infants and
mothers, WHO recommends breastfeeding in all but extreme circumstances [2].

The continued adherence to an industrial system of agriculture based on
highly hazardous pesticides has acute and chronic impacts on human health,
livestock, wildlife, pollinators, beneficial insects all of which are
essential to a stable, healthy and productive ecosystem[3]. Pesticides now
contaminate environmental media across the globe, including soil, surface-
and ground- waters, air, rain, fog, snow, and living organisms. Residues
have been documented from grasses high on the Himalayas to the bark of trees
[4], in breastmilk, human blood and other body fluids in many countries.
Yet again, the benefits associated with breastmilk clearly outweigh the
risk presented by current levels of contaminants in breastmilk [5].

Breastmilk is the ideal first food for infant that contains all of the
essential nutrients, antibodies and other factors important for balanced
growth and development that cannot be replicated artificially. Breastmilk
is a “natural, renewable food” that is environmentally safe and green
because it is produced and delivered to the consumer without pollution,
packaging, or waste. Relying on natural resources such as breastfeeding
plays an important role in saving earth. There is no doubt that
breastfeeding - which comes ready-made, ready to feed and does not need
heating up — is a huge saving in terms of carbon footprint. It also impacts
positively on maternal and child survival, health and wellbeing.

Sustainable farming practices such as agroecology help improve health and
nutrition through more diverse, nutritious and fresh diets as well as
reduce the incidence of pesticide poisonings and pesticide-related diseases
[6]. Governments have to be sensitised to the importance of the issue and
urged to act in the best interests of vulnerable groups such as women and
children. Reducing toxic chemicals in the environment can decrease the body
burden of these contaminants in all of us. Regulatory frameworks are thus
important to minimise and eliminate exposure to harmful contaminants 1. The
lives of all children and people worldwide must be protected by recognising
hazardous pesticides in the context not only of human health and
environmental impacts and costs, but also in the context of food security,
poverty reduction, and climate change 2.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and Pesticide Action
Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) are calling for the elimination of
environmental pollutants that disrupt our nature and harm our bodies. By
working together, we can achieve sustainable development by protecting,
promoting and supporting breastfeeding and agroecological food production
that are good for humans and nature. A win-win situation.

For more information, contact:

Revathi Ramachandran,  revathi at, WABA

Deeppa Ravindran, deeppa.ravindran at, PAN Asia Pacific (






[5] ttp://



*World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action*
P.O. Box 1200, 10850 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: 604 6584816 Fax: 604 6572655
Email: waba at
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