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Banning 27 hazardous pesticides wouldn't impact food security: PAN India tells govt

Counterview Desk 

The Government of India has made a U turn by banning only three out of 27 hazardous pesticides it had proposed in 2020, PAN India, a public interest, non-profit, research and advocacy organisation working to eliminate human and environmental harm caused by pesticides and uphold agroecology, has said.
In a note on letter it submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, it said, the recent draft Insecticides (Prohibition) Order, 2023 proposes to prohibit only two insecticides and a fungicide namely dicofol, methomyl and dinocap respectively.
About three years ago, by a notification issued on 18th May 2020, the Union Agriculture Ministry had proposed banning of 27 pesticides, including the above three, after considering the recommendations of the review committee, it added.
The NGO said, with the current draft order, the Ministry has actually taken a U turn, undermining its own earlier assessment -- ‘being satisfied with the fact that the use of twenty seven insecticides are likely to involve risk to human being and animals as to render it expedient or necessary to take immediate action’.

Text:

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, issued a draft Insecticides (Prohibition) Order 2023, proposing to prohibit manufacture, registration, formulation, import, transport, sale and use of three pesticides in the country. The notification issued on 15th February in the Gazette of India proposed prohibition of two insecticides and a fungicide namely dicofol, methomyl and dinocap respectively.

The 2020 draft ban order proposed banning of 27 pesticides

Nearly three years ago, by considering the recommendations of the review committee headed by Dr. Anupam Verma, the Agriculture Ministry had proposed banning of 27 pesticides, including the above three, by a notification issued on 18th May 2020.
The expert committee was constituted by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation on 8th July 2013 and further expanded on 19th August 2013 for reviewing and examining 66 pesticides, which were banned, restricted or withdrawn in other countries but continued to be used in India.
Subsequently, the Central government had banned 18 pesticides in August 2018, 12 were banned with immediate effect, while the ban on 6 more was to kick in by December 31, 2020. Later in May 2020, again considering the recommendations of the review committee and status of submission of recommended studies and safety data by the industry, another 27 pesticides were notified to be banned, as their use is likely to involve risk to human being and animals.

Registration Committee decision on 22nd December, 2015

As per the decision of Registration Committee (22nd December, 2015), the Certificate of Registration of technical and its formulation shall be deemed to be invalid for all the 27 pesticides (listed in 2020 draft notification) w.e.f. from 1st January, 2018, if studies as recommended by the Expert Committee is not submitted by December, 2017. This date has passed by 5 years back.

Worrying development on pesticide regulation in India

With the current draft order, the Ministry has actually taken a U turn, undermining its own earlier assessment, - ‘being satisfied with the fact that the use of twenty seven insecticides are likely to involve risk to human being and animals as to render it expedient or necessary to take immediate action’. 
But even after about three years from publishing the notification, the new draft order has come out that proposed to ban only three, leaving the remaining 24 pesticides to be allowed for use. Among these 24, 19 are Highly Hazardous Pesticides.
The  27 pesticides constitute less than 10% of pesticides used. Banning these would not impact food security and agriculture production
It was clearly mentioned in the 2020 draft order that “the use of twenty-seven insecticides as specified in the schedule to the Notification is likely to involve risk to human being and animals as to render it expedient or necessary to take immediate action”.
It is really a worrying development in the country that the government is silently allowing continued use of great majority of the hazardous pesticides, (that too banned in one or more other countries) that identified to cause adverse effects to human being, other animals and environment by the review committee appointed by the government.
Instead of limiting the prohibition to three pesticides now, the government should have issued final notification of the draft dated 18th May 2020. PAN India strongly recommends the Agriculture Ministry to ban all the 27 pesticides as recommended and as notified on 18th May, 2020, for the following reasons:
1. Anupam Verma Committee report
2. Registration Committee decision in 2015
3. Among 27, 16 pesticides have bypassed mandatory scrutiny, as per law
4. Some States like Maharashtra and Kerala have recommended ban on some of these 27 pesticides
5. Residues of some of these 27 pesticides were frequently found at high levels, across the country, in vegetables and other food items
6. 22 of the 27 have been identified as highly hazardous pesticides at international level
7. These 27 pesticides (11 insecticides, nine fungicides and 7 weedicides) constitute less than 10 percent of pesticides used. Banning these 27 pesticides would not impact food security and agriculture production in the country.
--- 
Comments submitted by PAN India to the Ministry of Agriculture can be accessed here

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