Four pesticides and one weedicide banned
Sep 14, 2013

The Agriculture Ministry yesterday banned the import, distribution and sale of four pesticides and one weedicide.

It was one of several measures taken to control the use of pesticides and weedicides and put a stop to kidney ailments fast spreading in the area.

Agriculture Ministry Secretary W. Sakalasuriya said pesticide retailers would be permitted to sell pesticides only through specially trained Agricultural Sales and Technical Assistants and a mechanism would be introduced to dispose or recycle empty pesticide and weedicide bottles in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

The pesticides – Carbaryl, Chlorophyriphos, Carbofuran and Propanil and the weedicide Glyphosate have been banned. Mr. Sakalasuriya said it would take some time to move out these pesticides and weedicides from the market.

“We are in process of tightening the measures to control and reduce the use of chemical fertilizer, pesticides and weedicides because kidney disease in some areas had spread to uncontrollable levels and was becoming a serious health issue in the country. There is no clear and confirmed evidence to suggest that pesticides, weedicides or chemical fertilisers are a direct source of water contamination but certain studies including one by the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated the possibility of these chemicals contaminating water in the farming districts. Hence our attempt to control their use,” Mr. Sakalasuriya said.

He said all imported pesticides would be laboratory-tested by the Registrar of Pesticides at the entry-point to ensure that banned chemicals were not brought into the country.

The Agriculture Ministry has instructed the National Fertiliser Secretariat to ban the import of Triple Sulphur Phosphate because it contained an excessive amount of cadmium which contaminated water and to replace it with rock phosphate from Eppawala.

Mr. Sakalasuriya said 500 GCE O/L and A/L youth have been recruited to be trained as Agricultural Sales and Technical Assistants and after their two years of training they would be employed at retail outlets where pesticides were sold.

He said the Government with the assistance of the Water Supply and Drainage Board would distribute clean drinking water in the affected areas until a permanent solution was found to prevent the contamination of water in the farming districts.

Meanwhile, a recent WHO-sponsored study in Sri Lanka has revealed that 15.9% in the age group of 15 years to 70 years in the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Badulla were suffering from kidney ailments.

“Though diabetes and hypertension are the leading factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) the studies conducted so far have revealed the presence of a high concentration of heavy metal such as cadmium, lead and arsenic in the soil of the affected areas. This is due to the use of chemical fertiliser and agro chemicals in agriculture. The drinking water in these areas is not up to the accepted level of purity and in many instances was contaminated. That can be the reason for the excessive number of cases of renal failure,” Prof. Shanthi Mendis who headed the study team said.

She said excessive concentration of heavy metal could be attributed to the use of chemical fertiliser, weedecide and pesticide. The WHO pointed out how soil contamination from heavy metal could be reduced and advised people to use only purified drinking water.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka

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