Safe farming – on Indiscriminate use of pesticides

Source: This post is created based on the article “Safe farming”, published in Business Standard on 17th May 2023.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3, Agriculture Inputs

News: Pesticides are a vital input for modern farming to protect crops against pests, disease-causing pathogens, and other threats. The scientific committee has given its suggestions on the issue of ban on pesticides.

Scientific committee, led by T P Rajendran has presented its report. Government has submitted its report in the Supreme Court (SC).

What are the findings of the committee on pesticide ban?

The committee considered the safety, toxicity, and effectiveness of these agro chemicals. It also took into account the views of farmers who have used them for years to protect their crops from pests, diseases, and weeds.

The committee approved 24 out of these 27 agro chemicals, suggesting only three should be banned.

A lack of affordable and equally effective alternatives to these chemicals is one of the reasons given for shortening this list.

What are the effects of pesticide use?

Pesticides are inherently hazardous due to their toxic chemicals which can have acute and chronic health effects, especially if misused.

Adverse health effects of agro chemicals usually result from over-exposure or misuse by farmers. Farmers in India often neglect basic precautions such as wearing gloves and face masks when spraying pesticides.

Additionally, farmers frequently ignore the safe use instructions provided on pesticide packaging.

What should be done?

The “International code of conduct on pesticide management” has been developed by WHO and FAO. It is a guide for governments, regulators, and other stakeholders, including farmers for pesticide management. This code should be strictly followed right from the stage of approval of pesticides for manufacture to their application to crops by farmers.

A large-scale awareness campaign is needed to promote the appropriate use of pesticides to mitigate agro-chemical-related hazards.

The ideal approach would be to incentivise the production and use of harmless and environmentally friendly bio-pesticides.

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