Miriam Waltz

Pesticide use and associated health perceptions in western Kenya: local understandings of agricultural practices, exposure and risk

Originally from the Netherlands, Miriam Waltz obtained her MA in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town, focusing on medical anthropology and science and technology studies. Her MA thesis followed the trajectory of donated breast milk from mostly middle-class donors to babies in a public hospital in Cape Town as it crossed geographical and social boundaries.

There are increasing concerns about links between the use of pesticides and various detrimental effects on human health and the environment. There is much scientific disagreement about whether there is a causal relationship, as recently seen in the case of glyphosate. While there is no scientific consensus about its link to cancer or other health effects, public perceptions of toxicity and its effects have led court cases infectious diseases in the US, contradictory regulatory practices in the EU, and increasing public concern around the world. This includes Kenya, which historically has been the site of intensive agriculture and pesticide use. This project therefore aims to describe the health perceptions and concerns of farmers, their families, policymakers and medical professionals related to agricultural practices in western Kenya.