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Industry experts appeal govt for phase-out plan of 27 pesticidesqrcode

Jun. 18, 2020

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Jun. 18, 2020

Crop industry experts on Wednesday demanded a phase out plan instead of banning 27 pesticides outright, saying that this kind of sudden decision will affect farmers who are used to a particular product for long.

A representation in this regard has been made to the government requesting it to consider multiple issues including the requirements of small farmers who have been dependent on these pesticides for a long time and formed spray schedules to prevent pest resistance.

On May 14, the Union Agriculture Ministry had sought views of the stakeholders in 45 days on a draft order that proposed a ban on 27 pesticides which are likely to involve risk to human beings and animals.

A final notification is yet to be issued as the deadline for submitting suggestions has been extended to 90 days.

"Farmers have been already fighting the battle with COVID-19 and international agri chains being disrupted. The suddenness of this decision and a hard stop to so many important products without a phase out plan will add to the misery of the farmers," a statement quoting industry experts said.

Experts recommended that the phase out plan should categorise the 27 products into hazardous, less hazardous, toxic, moderately toxic and less toxic groups and separate treatment should be prescribed for each group and the hazardous products may be phased out as early as possible.

The products selected for phase out may be allowed to be manufactured for the next two years and allow one additional year to dispose of the inventory fully, thus making it a three-year process. The overall toxicity profile of the pesticides that are used may be brought down over a period of 10 years (by 2030) in a phased manner.

That apart, experts suggested that the exports of these chemicals should be continued owing to the global demand for these products.

Former Vice Chairman of Aventis Crop Science and Chairman Emeritus at Crop Life India Kannan K Unni said the 27 pesticides were under a review since 2015 and industry has provided the data on the same in the last two years.

"This data should have been used by the authorities to prioritize the sequence of phasing out the most toxic ones over a defined period of time. Instead it is proposed to ban all of them suddenly," he said.

The list contains 12 insecticides, eight fungicides and seven herbicides. Three of them have red triangle (highly toxic), eight have yellow triangle (Toxic), 12 have blue triangle (moderately toxic) and four have green triangle (slightly toxic).

"Based on this classification there are different levels of urgency for banning these products and all of them do not deserve the same treatment," he explained.

Commenting on the drastic step taken by the government, Former Chairman of Indian Crop Protection Association V Ramachandra Kaundinya said, “Among the 27 products listed in the notification - Thiram, Deltamethrin and Carbendazim are used for treating seeds before the seeds are sold to the farmers."

The treatment helps in protecting seeds from soil borne and seed borne microorganisms like fungi, bacteria and viruses,  he said.     "The difficulty is that there is no alternative identified to replace Thiram, a fungicide which is economical. Seed treatments are carried out in factories by companies so that the farmer in the field has very limited exposure to them."

Kaundinya, who is currently  Director General of Federation of Seed Industry of India,  further said that identification of affordable and low cost alternate chemicals for each of the pesticides proposed to be banned is paramount before a phase out is planned for keeping the cost of cultivation reasonable and that the small holder farmers can remain competitive and can afford the products.

"Safer products are available Internationally. The Crop Protection industry needs a supportive policy framework with Intellectual Property protection to bring such products to India. Government may please discuss a plan with the industry,” Kaundinya added.

Vijay Raghavan Menon of Aventis Crop Science said the pool of pesticides that are used now is much safer than what it was 30 years back.

He said that all 27 products were registered as per the Insecticides Act after submission of all the required data. "Toxicity, environmental impact, phytotoxicity, agronomic performance and other data were studied before the registrations were granted and during the reviews.”

The Pesticide industry has been importing large volumes of intermediates and active ingredients from China. They have to define their revised sourcing strategies for the future given the current circumstances.

"Also, our Indian companies have built a huge export business for these products which must be treated separately from domestic use. This industry contributed immensely to make 'Make in India' successful. India should not lose that advantage," the statement said.

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