An expert group of Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University has urged the Central government to rethink on ban of 27 pesticides it has listed in a draft gazette notification recently just because data pertaining to their residues or bio-efficacy was insufficient or not generated.
The Centre proposed to ban, in one stroke, 27 pesticides that included at least three of them which were already banned in several countries as they were highly hazardous. For instance, monocrotophos was banned in 112 countries, carbofuran in 63 countries and methomyl in 41 countries.
While justifying ban on these three pesticides and three others — benfuracarb, thiodicarb which were also highly hazardous and and dicofol, a persistent organic pollutant — the expert group was of the view that the remaining 21 pesticides were moderately hazardous. A rethink was needed on outright ban of at least a dozen chemicals for reasons of structural control, storage, locust control and cheaper cost.
Overall, the ban proposal was likely to overburden the already distressed Indian farmers and also impact food security, the group felt.
The 27 pesticides in the draft notification were generic ones available to Indian farmers at affordable cost compared to the alternatives in the event of ban on them.
Under Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CID and RC) guidelines for registration, it was mandatory to submit bio-efficacy and residue data and no pesticide could be registered without such data dossiers and, hence, conclusions or apprehensions drawn on them needed to be revisited.
The group was of the view that there was no guarantee that the alternative to be suggested to the banned chemicals will escape from any time-bound mechanisms due to continued use of pesticides because resurgence and resistance were expected phenomenon in nature.
The blanket ban may be counter-productive in view of multifaceted problems being faced by India like pink bollworm in cotton and fall army worm in maize, scarcity of labour for weeding and food security to the ever increasing population.
The ban of 27 pesticides in one go will also impact several registered products as they will go out of racks and their non-availability will adversely affect farmers. Instead, the CIB and RC should carry out periodical review of proposed pesticides for banning in terms of residue levels in different food commodities at all India level and carry out resistance-resurgence reports before taking decisions on case-by-case basis.
The banned pesticides included eight fungicides which did not have right substitutes in Indian market to replace both in potentiality and affordability by small and marginal farmers.
Source: The Hindu Business Line