Oct. 27, 2020
This year in the month of May, Ministry of Agriculture issued a draft order banning the use and sale of 27 pesticides in India. The draft order came as a surprise, for the Indian agrochemical industry, as these 27 products constitute for almost 40% of total sale of pesticides in Indian market. Not just domestically, but some of the molecules are among the biggest exports of agrochemicals from India.
How these 27 molecules were selected
First of all, many wonders from where did this list of 27 molecules come? How did government select these 27 molecules and on what bases was it decided to ban them? On 8th July 2013, Department of Agriculture, government of India, constituted an expert committee under the leadership of Dr. Anupam Verma, to review the use of neonicotinoid pesticides registered in India.
Later the committee also reviewed 66 pesticides which were at that time banned / restricted / withdrawn for usage in one or more countries, but were being sold and used in India. Among others the main area of work of the committee was to analyze these 66 molecules on toxicity parameters including toxicity to honey bee, aquatic organisms, carcinogenicity, WHO classification by hazard and persistent organic Pollutants (POP) based on international conventions.
After deliberation and reviewing available scientific data, the committee recommended out of those 66 pesticides, 18 to be continued for usage, 6 to be phased out by year 2020, 13 to be completely banned in the country and 27 to be reviewed again in 2018 after completion of recommended studies. The list of these 27 pesticides is as follows:
This report submitted in year 2015 is the base of the draft notification, which the government issued in May 2020, banning the use of those 27 pesticides, which were to be reviewed again in year 2018.
After the notification, many registration managers of foreign companies (specially from China) started inquiring about the fate of these molecules. Some of them were planning to start registration of 1 or more molecules from this list. Some had even started with the registration process and all were worried as to what will happen to already invested money and the months of efforts put into selecting and finalizing the registration molecules for Indian market.
Now the point to note here, which most of us missed out, is that the notification issued in May 2020 was just a draft order, which was to be implemented only after getting feedback and consultation with all stakeholders, including pesticide manufacturers in India.
In the draft order it clearly mentions that 45 days are given for the review of this order and “Any objection or suggestion which may be received from any person in respect of the said draft order before the expiry of the aforesaid period of 45 days will be considered by the central government.”
On June 2nd 2020, the ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, after receiving representation from HIL (India) Ltd, PMFAI, FICCI and Chemexcil wrote a letter to Department of Agriculture explaining the situation about usage of these molecules and opposing the proposed ban. The letter very clearly mentioned that since all the required data as per the insecticides act has already been submitted, along with additional data as and when required by Central Insecticide Board, hence availability of insufficient data can not be grounds to ban these products.
Moreover, ‘banning of a particular pesticide by a few countries based on some studies somewhere’ does not provide enough grounds to CIB&RC for banning of these products in India. And any step to ban any chemical should only be taken after ‘due socio-economic impact assessment’. With various trade organizations, agrochemical associations, Chemical and Fertilizer Ministry, farmers opposing the unilateral proposal of CIB&RC to ban these 27 products, the department of agriculture didn’t move ahead with the implementation of the draft order.
Future of these 27 Molecules
Although there was no implementation of the draft order after 45 days of its initial publication, apprehension about future of these 27 molecules is still there in minds of many in the Industry, and they feel that Department of Agriculture or CIB&RC should come up with a follow up clarification order, clearly stating that the use of these pesticides has not been banned. Now this will not happen for mainly 2 reasons.
First of all it was a draft order and had no legal binding until it was formally implemented, hence there is no need for CIB&RC to come up with a new order stating that first order is null and void.
Secondly, legally, if the draft order on the expiry of 45 days period mentioned was not implemented or its feedback period was not extended, it automatically becomes null and void for future implementation. Moreover during Khariff season in India, sale and use of these 27 pesticides mentioned in the draft order was completely allowed by the CIB&RC and state agricultural departments. There was not any kind of opposition from any of the government departments across the country on domestic usage of these pesticides.
In future, as far as my understanding goes, CIB&RC or agricultural department will not come up with a unilateral order banning the use of these pesticides. Government should setup a new expert committee to carefully assess threat of these pesticides on environment, human life and the socio-economic impact any banning would have on Indian agricultural and Agrochemical sector.
Until such a committee is formed, and the committee after taking long – term studies into consideration and feedback of all stakeholders doesn’t recommend banning of these products again, sale and usage of these agrochemicals should be completely permitted in domestic Indian market without any hassle.
The article is from 2020 INDIA PESTICIDE SUPPLIERS GUIDE magazine.
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