[Answered] Considering the harmful impacts of pesticide usage, minimizing its use should have become a national priority. In light of the statement, highlight the harmful impacts of excessive usage of pesticides and suggest some measures to control it.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some harmful impacts of excessive usage of pesticides. Also write some measures to control it.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Chemical compounds that are employed to eliminate pest organisms are called pesticides. The term pesticide covers a wide range of compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides etc. The Insecticides Act of 1968 covers the registration, manufacture and sale of pesticides in India.

Harmful impacts of excessive usage of pesticides:

  • Impact on humans: Exposure to various pesticides can cause short-term health problems (acute) like nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, breathing problems, etc. as well as long-term diseases (chronic) birth defects, cancers, neurological harm, reproductive harm, etc.
  • Impact on environment: Excessive use can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants. This is one of the major causes of the world-wide decline in honeybee population- affecting the pollination process that is vital for the agricultural sector.
  • Water contamination: Pesticides can reach surface water through runoff from treated plants and soil. Once groundwater is polluted with toxic chemicals, it may take many years for the contamination to dissipate or be cleaned up.
  • Effect on soil fertility: They persist for a long time in the soil and atmosphere and influence various biotic and abiotic factors. eg: certain pesticides are known to impede the nitrogen  fixing function of soil bacteria.

Measures to control it:

  • Using technology:
  • Mobile technology can be roped in to develop a multi-purpose Pesticide Prescription and Transaction System (PPTS). It will also provide information about hazards and help to limit the selling of illegal and non-genuine pesticides.
  • Geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and various sensors, can be used to decrease risks for environmental pollution and to enhance economic benefits stemming from the reduction in the use of pesticides.
  • Alternate business model: The business model of the farm chemical input industry must transform to become a service industry.
  • Transparent data collection: Shopkeepers should report each sale of farm chemicals to the government in real time. There is a need for a mandatory QR code on each farm chemical package. These measures will allow for better-targeted farm advisory and grievance redressal.
  • Independent regulator: Same officials and departments who advocate pesticide use also regulate the trade. The regulation of farm chemicals needs to be transferred to the health ministry.

Pesticides can help farmers to create economic gain, but interventions are needed to reduce the extent of pesticide overuse to protect farm workers, consumers and the environment as well as to reduce unnecessary farm expenses on inputs.

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