In India, controversial and banned pesticides are widely used, presumably to increase crop yields, for faster growth, to increase shelf life etc. Pesticides cover a wide range of compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides etc.
These chemical pesticides are a real concern because they can cause chronic illnesses like birth defects, cancers, blood disorders, neurological problems, reproductive health effects, immune system impairment, effect on growth and development etc.
Pesticides used in India but banned everywhere else!
India currently still uses 67 pesticides which have been banned or restricted in other countries. Even though expert committees were set up by the Central Government to examine the matter, they continued to recommend the use of these pesticides in most cases and in some cases they allowed restricted use.
Kerala banned the use of 15 pesticides in May this year. However, about a dozen pesticides which were either banned or severely restricted in other countries continue to be used in Kerala.
Moreover, several of the banned pesticides are still in use and some of the alternatives suggested officially are pesticides banned in other countries.
Deadly Pesticides causing death in children
Certain pesticides like organophosphates are blamed for the death of 25 children in India aged 4 to 12, who fell ill after eating a school Mid-day scheme lunch consisting of rice, soybeans, and lentils in the village of Mashrakh in the eastern state of Bihar. Early reports suggest that the rice or the cooking oil used to prepare the childrens’ mid-day meal contained unsafe levels of the pesticide.
Organophosphates, the pesticides first developed in Germany in the 1940s have emerged as an important defence against agricultural pests. They also happen to be extremely toxic and are considered junior-strength nerve agents because they possess the same action as nerve gases like sarin explained Dana Boyd Barr, an exposure scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has studied organophosphate poisoning.
Now Fake pesticides use on the rise
Millions of naïve Indian farmers are spraying fake pesticides on their crops contaminating the soil, lowering crop yields and putting food security and human health at risk.
The use of these fake pesticides has exacerbated losses in the GM cotton crop in north India after an attack by whitefly, say officials.
Made discretely and given names resembling the original, these fake pesticides are responsible for up to 30% of the $4 billion pesticide market, according to a government study.
Mr S.N. Sushil, who heads India’s top pesticide testing laboratory in Faridabad, near Delhi, said farmers panic at the first sight of a pest attack and tend to overuse chemicals, reducing their effectiveness and raising toxicity levels.