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Pesticide Poisoning Crisis in Maharashtra

Context:

In Maharashtra, particularly Yavatmal district, the prevalence of pesticide poisoning has led to the death of 20 farmers since 2017. The crisis has resulted in various health issues, including respiratory problems, skin rashes, neurological disorders, and reproductive issues, posing a severe threat to the well-being of farmers and farmworkers.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Pesticides: Types, Risks, and Recent Bans
  2. Regulation of Pesticides in India: Insights and Concerns

Understanding Pesticides: Types, Risks, and Recent Bans

  • Pesticides encompass chemical or biological substances designed to prevent, control, or eradicate pests, serving both agricultural and non-agricultural purposes.

Risks and Misuse:

  • Despite their utility, pesticides can pose significant threats to human health and the environment when misused, overused, or sold illegally.
Types of Pesticides:
  • Insecticides: Combat insects and pests harming plants.
  • Fungicides: Control fungal diseases in crops.
  • Herbicides: Manage weed growth in cultivation areas.
  • Bio-Pesticides: Derived from biological sources like animals, plants, and bacteria.
  • Others: Include plant growth regulators, nematicides, rodenticides, and fumigants.
Pesticide Poisoning:
  • Refers to adverse effects on humans or animals resulting from pesticide exposure.
  • Classified into acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) poisoning.
  • Acute poisoning arises from substantial, rapid pesticide contact, ingestion, or inhalation.
  • Chronic poisoning occurs with prolonged exposure to low pesticide doses, causing organ and systemic damage.
Recent Bans:
  • In 2023, the government prohibited three insecticides—Dicofol, Dinocap, and Methomyl—in addition to monocrotophos due to their harmful effects.

Regulation of Pesticides in India: Insights and Concerns

Regulatory Framework:
  • Pesticides in India are governed by the Insecticides Act, 1968, and the Insecticides Rules, 1971.
  • The Act, under the administration of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, addresses pesticide registration, manufacture, and sale.
Concerns Regarding Pesticide Use:
  • Health Impacts:
    • Chronic, low-level pesticide exposure is linked to various nervous system symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, dizziness, tension, anger, depression, impaired memory, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Biomagnification:
    • Pesticides move up the food chain, infiltrating soil or water systems and accumulating in aquatic animals or plants, posing risks to human health. This phenomenon is known as biomagnification.
  • Ecological and Economic Impact:
    • Prolonged pesticide use has contributed to the ecological, economic, and existential challenges in the Indian agriculture sector.
  • Global Disparities:
    • While agriculture is a state subject, the Insecticides Act, 1968, a central act, governs education and research related to insecticides. This has led to a disparity, with 104 pesticides used in India being banned in two or more countries globally.
  • List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides:
    • In 2021, the non-profit Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International identified over 100 approved pesticides in India as highly hazardous, raising concerns about their safety and impact.

-Source: The Hindu

 


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