May. 9, 2016
The Pesticides Manufactures and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) have appealed to the Government to reject the recommendations of the Expert Committee / Registration Committee to ban 13 products (Benomyl, Carbaryl, DDT, Diazinon, Fenarimol, Fenthion, Linuron, MEMC, Methyl Parathion, Sodium Cyanide, Thiometon, Tridemorph, Trifluralin) and phase out 6 products (Alachlor, Dichlovos-DDVP, Phorate, Phophamidon, Triazophos, Trichlorfon) over next 5 years.
PMFAI stated that the decisions taken by the Registration Committee in its 361st Special meeting will be working against the Indian Pesticide Industry, particularly MSMEs and "Make in India". They also observed some of the important recommendations made by the Expert Committee were never discussed with representatives of Pesticide Industry Associations.
The India Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare appointed an Expert Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Anupam Varma to review 66 pesticides which are currently banned/restricted/withdrawn in one or more countries, but continued to be used in India.
The Registration Committee of Central Insecticides Board in its 361st meeting accepted the recommendations of the Expert Committee to ban 13 products, phase out 6 products, and while allowing continued use of 46 products for another 2 years, recommended to review of these pesticides again after 2 years.
The very reason of "review of products banned in one or more countries" itself is wrong, PMFAI stated. If a product is banned in any other country for any cause or concerns, the Expert Committee must have the scientific approach to first determine relevant issues of concern, and their relevance in Indian context, then only ask Indian registrants to address that concern. There must be some parameters for review.
Product Review being a scientific process, the observations and concerns of authorities should have been brought to the knowledge of Pesticide Industry and sufficient time should have been given to generate data to address these concerns per product before unilaterally banning or phasing out the product by the Registration Committee.
Industry members inform that most of the Data submitted by various companies have not been studied by the Committee members. The Expert Committee members stuck with old reports and old information gathered from one or two countries as well as from NGO websites. Many molecules recommended to be banned are not really registered in those countries. The Expert Committee never wrote to Registration Authorities of various countries for confirmation and hence validation of information was missing. Molecule like carbaryl is registered and in use in 30 countries including USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea but still it is banned. Is Review Committee disrespect those countries' Regulatory Status?
Most of the 66 pesticides that have been reviewed by the Expert Committee are generic products manufactured by Indian manufacturers and a number of powerful multinational companies are promoting ban on the said generic products to oust Indian manufacturers from competition and establish monopoly in the Indian market. The actions of the Expert Committee of modifying its recommendations unilaterally and arbitrarily were neither fair nor transparent and are completely against the principles of natural justice.
Constitution of the Committee was contrary to the mandate given by the Hon'ble Supreme Court
Hon'ble Supreme Court has entrusted the responsibility of taking any action/decision in respect of an insecticide exclusively on the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) constituted in accordance with the directions of Hon'ble Supreme Court.
From time to time, the said IMC reviews the status of various pesticides in the country. For instance, in 2005, the IMC decided to review the status of 36 pesticides and directed the Registration Committee to review the same. On the directions of IMC, the Registration Committee constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. C.D. Mayee which gave its report in respect of the said pesticides in 2007.
PMFAI believed that in the matter of review of the said 66 pesticides, no such decision was taken by IMC to review the status of the same and the matter of review has never been deliberated by the IMC.
It appears that the Ministry of Agriculture had taken a suo-motu decision to review the status of the said 66 pesticides and had constituted the Expert Committee without there being any direction from the IMC in this regard.
The Expert Committee did not have a senior officer from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Environment & Forest and Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers respectively.
The appointment of the Committee and its terms of reference have not been disclosed
Any Committee is constituted for a specific purpose which is duly indicated in its "terms of reference". The terms of reference of any committee contain, inter-alia the objectives of the committee, the manner in which the said committee would carry on its business and the time period within which committee must complete the task entrusted.
However, in the matter of review of the said 66 pesticides, the terms of reference of the Expert Committee have not been disclosed to anyone and are shrouded in mystery.
The committee failed to lay down a procedure for conducting review of 66 pesticides and acted in an ad-hoc and arbitrary manner.
In the past, a number of committees have been formed to review the status of various pesticides, including all the pesticides that have been reviewed by the Expert Committee. All the previews committees, including the Dr. C.D. Mayee Committee, Dr. R.B. Singh Committee, Dr. S.N. Banerjee Committee, Dr. Bami Committee etc. had given opportunity to individual companies to defend their products by submitting data/information and making presentations. The said procedure followed by the previous committees has always been considered just, fair and transparent by the industry and has been appreciated by all members of the industry.
But in the present case, only pesticide industry associations - Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India (PMFAI), Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) and CropLife India (CLI) were allowed to defend the pesticides. The industry associations, despite their capabilities, have some limitations. The Expert Committee failed to appreciate that after a certain stage, the expertise of individual companies who are the manufacturers of pesticides may be required due to their specific knowledge and experience about their own products and access to further data/information from their principals and other sources.
The 66 pesticides that have been reviewed by the Expert Committee are generic products manufactured by Indian manufacturers and a number of powerful multinational companies are promoting a ban on the said generic products to oust Indian manufacturers from competition and establish monopoly in the Indian market.
A number of decisions taken by the Expert Committee in its meeting have been modified arbitrarily and unilaterally to the detriment of the industry without giving an opportunity to the industry representatives to give their comments on the same.
Besides, both Expert Committee and Registration Committee have committed number of errors in arriving at their recommendations/decisions.
The recommendation by Expert Committee that all the deemed to be registered pesticides (DRP) need to be re-evaluated for their bio-efficacy and residue data against major target pests as per approved label claims and baseline toxicity data may be generated by the registrants by December 2017 otherwise the Certificate of Registration will be treated as deem cancelled w.e.f. 1st January 2018.
Asking to generate bio-efficacy residue and baseline toxicity data for the sake of generating it again is un-scientific and without reasons. Such data to be generated only when there are serious concerns in terms of efficacy/residue/toxicity, which are not in compliance to the current claims.
CIL continuously monitors toxicity levels of pesticide products and AICRP carries out the residue studies regularly. Unless there are serious concerns, seeking to generate data means spending crores of rupees to be spent by industry with absolutely no value addition.
There are many more recommendations made by Expert Committee which need thorough discussion with all stakeholders.