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New Report Reveals Unauthorised & Unsafe Use Of Chlorpyrifos & Hazardous Pesticides In India, Demands Stringent Action

New report reveals serious problems of pesticide usage in
India and points to poor regulation of hazardous
agrochemicals. The current use pattern is implicated in
widespread unauthorised uses of chlorpyrifos, fipronil,
atrazine and paraquat in India, posing threat to food safety
and environmental contamination.

Thrissur: A new
report titled ‘State
Of Chlorpyrifos, Fipronil, Atrazine And Paraquat Dichloride
In India
’ is released in a workshop titled
‘Hazardous Pesticides in India: Health and Food Safety
Concerns’
organised at, the PWD mini conference hall,
Thrissur, reveals a dangerous situation of use and
regulation of four pesticides in India. This research report
was developed by Pesticide Action Network India, a national
non-profit organisation, exclusively working on pesticide
related issues in the country. This report addresses
regulation and use of four highly hazardous pesticides
(HHPs) in India based on field study conducted in seven
Indian states, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh,
Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Telangana and West Bengal. This study
gathered information on pesticide usage and health effects
from 300 respondents including farmers, farm workers and
pesticide retailers.

The report is released by Dr. P.
Indira Devi, ICAR Emeritus Professor, Kerala Agriculture
University. ‘Health is wealth and there is only “ONE
HEALTH” which is solely dependent on the quality of
ecosystem services. Unscientific use and handling of
chemical pesticides makes the ecosystem unhealthy. We have
to go for science based policy decisions and its strict
implementation coupled with demand side management through
educating the society’ said, Dr. Indira devi. ‘The use
of HHPs and its ecosystem and human health damages from
across the world, can be a pointer in decision making apart
from the laboratory level impact data . The proposed
Pesticide Management Bill, though an improvement over the
1968 Insecticide Act, needs modifications to make the goal
of sustainable agriculture achievable. The Bill which has
been in discussion needs to be presented and passed, as
well’ she added.

While these four pesticides are
approved for use in India for specific crop-pest
combinations, the study uncovered numerous unapproved uses
in food and non-food crops. Chlorpyrifos is approved for 18
crops in India, while this study found its use in 23 crops.
Fipronil is approved for nine crops and field use was
recorded for 27 crops. Similarly, atrazine and paraquat
dichloride are approved for one and 11 crops respectively,
field uses have been noted in 19 and 23 crops respectively.
Of serious concern is that the study uncovered agriculture
departments/universities and pesticide industry recommending
unapproved uses. These high numbers of non-approved uses
pose serious questions on the safety of agricultural produce
and environmental contamination. The Maximum Residue Level
(MRL) for agriculture produce is monitored based approved
uses and therefore, non-approved uses are largely remain
unmonitored for MRLs which is a serious food safety concern
domestically, as well as it pose treat to international
trade of agriculture commodities.

This study noted
various problems related to pesticide usage in the field
that results in exposure and poisoning, including lack of
training on use and safety precautions, inadequate storage
of pesticide containers, use of faulty/leaky spraying
equipment, and non-availability of recommended safety gear.
Inadequate labelling practices such as small font sizes,
which make it difficult to read the information on labels
and leaflets and poor information on safety measures and
PPE, along with unsafe handling of empty containers, were
also noted. Dr. Indiradevi opined,we
should have properly trained and lisenced force for
pesticide application which has to be governed by
agriculture department as well as local self governments. As
pesticide use results in considerable environmental
pollution, monitoring by local authorities is required.
Drones are extensively used in agriculture presently. The
use of drones in chemical pesticide application needs to be
allowed only after scientific studies on aspects related to
drift, height, spray particle size, etc., and its potent
environmental damages.”

About 40
percent of total registered pesticides in India qualifys to
be categorized as highly hazardous pesticides owing their
potential to cause health environmental damages. Pesticide
use and practices documented in this study indicate serious
lacuna in regulation and accountability, as the use is
happening in violation of national approved use. This points
to poor governance of pesticide management in India that
results in exposure of farmers and workers, contamination of
agricultural produce and environmental pollution. About 20%
farmers and 44% farm workers participated in the study
reported exposure and ill health. While the farming
community is often blamed for indiscriminate, injudicious
and unsafe use of pesticides, it needs to be realized that
safe use of hazardous pesticides can never happen in the
given the agroeocological and climatic conditions in India’,
said A. D. Dileep Kumar, CEO of PAN India, and author of the
report.

Among the four pesticides chlorpyrifos,
fipronil and paraquat are recommended for use in Kerala.
Most of the recommended uses of the Kerala Agriculture
University (KAU) for chlorpyrifos and fipronil are not in
compliance with the use approved nationally. Chlorpyrifos is
recommended for 15 crops, while 13 of them are not approved
nationally. Similarly, fipronil is recommended for four
uses, but three of them are not approved nationally. The
recent pesticide residue analysis conducted by KAU reveals
presence of chlorpyrifos residues above the prescribed
maximum level in 19 food commodities, all are marked as
non-recommended pesticide, indicating wide spread
indiscriminate use. Use of paraquat dichloride has been also
reported from Kerala in several crop and non-crop
settings.

This report recommends banning the four
pesticides considering their inherent toxicity as well as
the widespread unsafe and non-approved use. It further
recommends expanding the monitoring of pesticide residues in
farm produce and environmental samples to understand the
level and extent of contamination. Moreover, it demands the
Ministry of Agriculture to foster a paradigm shift with
policy support to boost wider adoption of agroecology-based
farming practices in India. ‘PAN India believes that this
report will help state level and national authorities in
India to come up with stringent regulatory measures
including banning of pesticides to protect farming
communities, consumers and the environment from harmful
effects of toxic agrochemicals’, added Dileep
Kumar.

The workshop discussed various aspects of
pesticide regulation and use, and raised concerns over
contamination food resources by toxic pesticides and
possible health impacts. Dr. Lalitha Vijayan from Salim Ali
Foundation, Illias KP from Organic Farming Association of
India, and Asokakumar from Kerala Jaivakarshaka Samithi
actively participated in the discussion. They emphasised the
need of concerted efforts from both Union and state
governments in terms of policy and implementation to reduce
use of hazardous pesticides and promote
agroecological-farming methods.

Find the newly
released report in this link:
Click
Here

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