Exclusive Report by Krishak Jagat.
24 April 2023, New Delhi: The decision of the Ministry of Agriculture to ban 3 out of 27 pesticides has been a great relief for both the farmers and the agrochemical industry. The three pesticides banned are Dicofol, Dinocap, and Methomyl as the use of these pesticides involves health hazards and risks to human beings and animals due to the non-availability of data on safety and efficacy. The companies manufacturing these pesticides didn’t push to defend them as there are better alternatives available.
The Central Government issued a notification on 2nd Feb 2023 to prohibit these three pesticides for registration, import, manufacture, formulation, transport, sale, and use.
In addition to the three being banned, the central government on the recommendation of the expert committee decided to remove a few selected crops from the label claim for which the bio-efficacy and residue data was not available. The 8 pesticides for which there is a change in label claim are Carbofuran, Malathion, Monocrotophos, Quinalphos, Mancozeb, Oxyfluorfen, Dimethoate, and Chlorpyriphos.
“The decision has been timely and just before the onset of the Kharif season. Kharif or the monsoon season is a major agriculture season for Indian farmers and the availability of some of the key pesticides from the remaining 24 at a reasonable price will help to keep the cost of cultivation low for the farmers. These products are recommended by most of the state agriculture universities and are part of their package of practices”, mentioned an expert from the industry to Krishak Jagat.
The agriculture sector in India is growing year after year with the hard work of farmers, the proficiency of scientists, the technological intervention of the private sector, and the farmer-friendly policies of the Government. The second advance estimate of production of major crops released earlier this year by the ministry for 2022-23 is estimated to be 323.5 million tonnes which is higher by 7.9 million tonnes of the previous year with a record production of Rice at 130.8 million tonnes and Maize at 34.6 million tonnes.
Dr. T. P Rajendran Committee
The Central Government constituted an expert committee in 2021 under the chairmanship of Dr. T.P. Rajendran, former Additional Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to review the objections, suggestions along with the data received.
The Central Government after considering the report of the Expert Committee and after consultation with the Registration Committee concluded that the use of three pesticides Dicofol, Dinocap, and Methomyl involves health hazards and risks to human beings and animals due to the non-availability of data on safety and efficacy.
The original notification had listed the cause for banning each of the 27 pesticides, ranging from endocrine disruption, carcinogenic impurities, being highly toxic, and being toxic for aquatic organisms, birds, and honey bees. However, these aspects were examined by the technical committee headed by Dr. T.P Rajendran which included data submitted by individual companies and associations.
Supreme Court Intervention
The Supreme Court on 27th March had asked the Central Government to justify the ban on three pesticides out of the proposed 27 pesticides. A petition filed by an NGO is seeking a ban on all 27 pesticides. A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices PS Narasimha, and JB Pardiwala will be reviewing the justification by the central government and the petition on 28th April.
The Ministry of Agriculture on 18th May 2020 released the draft order stating to ban 27 pesticides that they considered harmful for Animals and Humans. The draft order was challenged in various High Courts of the country as it included widely used pesticides and a majority with no substitutes. All the listed pesticides have been used by Indian farmers for the last 40 years. The ban could have even impacted emergency control of invasive pests locusts which entered India in September 2020. The 27 molecules cumulatively had over 130 formulations and combinations with a business value of about Rs. 15,500 crores including exports.
The complete list of 27 pesticides has Insecticides: Acephate, Benfuracarb, Carbofuran, Chlorpyriphos, Deltamethrin, Dicofol, Dimethoate, Malathion, Methomyl, Monocrotophos, Thiodicarb, and Quinalphos; Herbicides: Atrazine, 2,4-D, Diuron, Butachlor, Oxyfluorfen, Pendimethalin, and Sulfosulfuron; Fungicides: Carbendazim, Captan, Dinocap, Mancozeb, Thiophanate methyl, Thiram, Ziram, and Zineb.
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