Enviornment Prelims cum Mains

Government bans 12 pesticides with immediate effect

The News

  • The Centrehas banned use of 12 pesticides with immediate effect and issued orders for banning six others from December 31, 2020.

 

Highlights of the news

  • The Centre has banned use of 12 pesticides with immediate effect and issued orders for banning six others from December 31, 2020 as their use is hazardous for both human beings and animals.
  • The notification says that no person shall manufacture, import, formulate, transport, sell and use any of those 12 pesticides from the date of publication of the order.
  • It also specified that action would be taken under the Insecticides Act, 1968 against any person who fails to return certificate of registration for manufacture transport and sell these pesticides within three months.

 

Background

  • A committee headed by Anupam Verma, a retired a retired professor from Indian Agriculture Research from Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) was constituted by the Agriculture Ministry in August 2013 to review 66 pesticides.
  • All the 66 pesticides are banned, restricted or withdrawn in one or more countries across the globe but continued to be used in India.
  • The Committee had recommended in 2015 that 12 pesticides be banned and 6 more phased out.
  • The agriculture ministry had subsequently issued a draft notification in December 2016 on banning the pesticides recommended by the Anupam Verma committee.
  • But after receiving comments and suggestions to the draft notification, the ministry constituted another committee headed by JS Sandhu of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to look in to the suggestions and form an opinion on banning these pesticides.
  • In November 2017, following reports of pesticide poisoning and death of more than 40 farmers in Maharashtra, Kavitha and two others had petitioned the SC to ban 99 pesticides that had been banned or restricted in other countries.
  • The Supreme Court in April 2018 directed the Centre to take a decision on banning 18 pesticides within the next two months.
  • The government now took acted on the committee’s recommendation and notified the ban on those 18 pesticides on August 8.

 

Recommendations of Anupam Verma committee

  • The Anupam Verma Committee, set up to review the continued use of 66 pesticides that have been barred/restricted for use in farming in other countries, has recommended a ban on 13 ‘extremely hazardous’ pesticides, phasing out of six ‘moderately hazardous’ ones by 2020, and review of 27 pesticides in 2018.
  • Pesticides to be continued (18): Aluminium phosphide, Bifenthrin, Carbosulfan, Chlorfenapyr, Chlorothalonil, Dazomet, Diflubenzuron, Ethofenprox, Fenpropathrin, Iprodione, Kasugamycin, Mepiquat chloride, Metaldehyde, Paraquat dichloride, Pretilachlor, Propargite, Propineb and Zinc phosphide.
  • Pesticides to be reviewed again in 2018 (27): Acephate, Atrazine, Benfuracarb, Butachlor, Captan,  Carbendazim, Carbofuran, Chlorpyriphos, Deltamethrin, Dicofol, Dimethoate, Dinocap,  Diuron, 2,4-D, Malathion, Mancozeb, Methomyl, Monocrotophos, Oxyfluorfen, Pendimethalin, Quinalphos, Sulfosulfuron, Thiodicarb, Thiophanate methyl, Thiram, Zineb, Ziram.
  • Pesticides to be phased out by 2020 (6): Alachlor, Dichlorvos, Phorate, Phosphamidon, Triazophos, Trichlorfon.
  • Pesticide’s ban to be continued (1):
  • Pesticides to be banned (13):Benomyl, Carbaryl, DDT, Diazinon, Fenarimol, Fenthion, Linuron, MEMC, Methyl Parathion, Sodium Cyanide, Thiometon, Tridemorph, Trifluralin.
  • Pesticides not reviewed as it is sub-judice (1): Endosulfan

 

 

About Pesticides

  • The term pesticide covers compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, molluscicides, nematicides, plant growth regulators and others.

 

Benefits of pesticides

  • Improving productivity: Food grain production has increased almost fourfold from an estimated 169 million hectares of permanently cropped land.
  • Protection of crop losses/yield reduction: Weeds reduce yield of dry land crops by 37–79%. Herbicides provided both an economic and labour benefit.
  • Vector disease control: Insecticides are often the only practical way to control the insects that spread deadly diseases such as malaria.
  • Quality of food: A diet containing fresh fruit and vegetables far outweigh potential risks from eating very low residues of pesticides in crops. Eating fruit and vegetables regularly reduces the risk of many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
  • Other areas: The transport sector makes extensive use of pesticides, particularly herbicides. Herbicides and insecticides are used to maintain the turf on sports pitches, cricket grounds and golf courses. Insecticides protect buildings and other wooden structures from damage by termites and wood-boring insects.

 

Hazards of Pesticides

  • There is now overwhelming evidence that some of these chemicals do pose a potential risk to humans and other life forms and unwanted side effects to the environment
  • Direct impact on human
    • The high risk groups exposed to pesticides include production workers, formulators, sprayers, mixers, loaders and agricultural farm workers.
    • During manufacture and formulation, the possibility of hazards may be higher because the processes involved are not risk free.
    • OC compounds could pollute the tissues of virtually every life form on the earth, the air, the lakes and the oceans, the fishes that live in them and the birds that feed on the fishes.
    • Low-dose exposure to certain environmental chemicals, including pesticides termed as endocrine disruptors are linked to human health effects such as immune suppression, hormone disruption, diminished intelligence, reproductive abnormalities and cancer.
  • Impact through food commodities
    • In India the first report of poisoning due to pesticides was from Kerala in 1958, where over 100 people died after consuming wheat flour contaminated with parathion (Karunakaran, 1958).
  • Impact on environment
    • Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation.
    • In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants.
    • Insecticides are generally the most acutely toxic class of pesticides, but herbicides can also pose risks to non-target organisms.
    • Pesticide sprays can directly hit non-target vegetation, or can drift or volatilize from the treated area and contaminate air, soil, and non-target plants.
  • Effect on soil fertility
    • Heavy treatment of soil with pesticides can cause populations of beneficial soil microorganisms to decline.
    • If we lose both bacteria and fungi, then the soil degrades.
    • Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have effects on the soil organisms that are similar to human overuse of antibiotics.

 

Challenges in banning the pesticides

  • Food security can be adversely impacted with reduction in productivity.
  • There is pressure from the fertilizer industry that the government is unable to take a decision to ban the entire 66 pesticides.

 

Government initiatives

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is implementing a program for “Monitoring of Pesticide Residues at National Level” (MPRNL) under which samples of agriculture commodities are collected and analyzed for the presence of pesticide residues.
  • Central Integrated Pest Management Centres (CIPMCs) under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare conduct Farmers Field Schools to sensitize farmers regarding safe and judicious use of pesticides, use of bio-pesticides etc.
  • A ‘Grow Safe Food’ campaign has also been initiated carrying the message of safe and judicious use of pesticides to farmers and other stakeholders.
  • Under Soil Health Management Scheme, financial assistance is provided to States for imparting training and demonstration to farmers on balanced use of fertilizers.
  • The Government is encouraging establishment of Bio-fertilizer units by providing financial assistance to State Governments.

 

Way forward

  • Our efforts should include investigations of outbreaks and accidental exposure to pesticides, correlation studies, cohort analyses, prospective studies and randomised trials of intervention procedures.
  • Valuable information can be collected by monitoring the end product of human exposure in the form of residue levels in body fluids and tissues of the general population.
  • Education and training of workers is a major vehicle to ensure a safe use of pesticides.

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