Albion Monitor /News

Companies Aggressively Push Banned Pesticides in Third World

by Tabibul Islam

on banned pesticide sales in Third World
(IPS) DHAKA -- Inadequate policing of regulations, coupled with aggressive marketing that underplays the dangers of the pesticides involved, have caused pesticides sales to soar in Bangladesh, a new study reveals.

Researchers at the Institute of Development Policy Analysis found banned and suspect pesticides among the 12,000 tons imported into the country last year, a three-fold increase over the last decade that is eating into the country's foreign exchange reserves.

Suppliers continue to sell many chemical substances proscribed by the government, and also 12 particularly controversial pesticides dubbed the "dirty dozen" by activists campaigning worldwide to stop its manufacture.

The Bangladesh Pesticides Rule states that "no person shall import, manufacture, formulate, repack, sale hold in stock, or in any other manner advertise any brand of pesticides which has not been registered."

But gullible and illiterate farmers are persuaded by glib sales talk at promotional camps and through incentive schemes to buy new unregistered formulations that promise to protect crops against pest attacks and disease. An estimated 600 million dollars worth of paddy is destroyed by pests and rodents every year.

Suppliers pack the pesticides in insoluble containers -- quite often in bottles -- to attract the farmers who use the bottles and other containers for different domestic purposes
Suppliers promoting trade brands with missionary zeal gloss over the health and environmental consequences of pesticide overuse despite established risks. The intensive use of DDT is now blamed for the resurgence of malaria in parts of the world.

Similarly Aldrin and Endrin, both insecticides, classified as "highly hazardous" by the World Health Organization (WHO), are sold under various labels in Bangladesh. The onus in each case is on the purchaser to find out the harmful effects of the substance that is being bought.

Suppliers pack the pesticides in insoluble containers -- quite often in bottles -- to attract the farmers who use the bottles and other containers for different domestic purposes without realizing the health hazards.

The WHO and the U.N's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) say that poor countries like Bangladesh do not have the necessary resources and infrastructure to adequately regulate the use and availability of pesticides.

According to the Department of Environment in Dhaka, stricter policing could check the in flow of chemical substances like heptachlor, paraquat, aluminium phosphate -- banned in the home country but directed to Bangladesh.

Dr. P. Pachagounder, FAO advisor, is pushing for integrated pest management which could stop the unplanned and indiscriminate use of toxic chemicals, he says. The response in the areas where the strategy has been introduced is very encouraging, he adds.

Partly funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the project launched in May 1996 is training farmers in pest management methods, which involves natural methods of control, the introduction of pest-resistant varieties of paddy and scientific use of pesticides to assist natural methods.

In Bangladesh, IPM was introduced in 1981 on an experimental basis under the inter-country programme funded by FAO.

The five-year national project is being implemented at a cost of about 8 million dollars, of which UNDP is providing 3.5 million dollars. FAO is providing technical assistance to the project which is being carried out by the Department of Agricultural Extension of the Bangladesh government.

The prime objective of the project is to impart training in 120 sub-districts and develop a national policy to promote and co-ordinate IPM activities in the country.

Some 700 agricultural extension staff including field supervisors and plant protection inspectors have been given training by FAO experts on IPM which has so far been introduced in a third of the targeted sub-districts. There are a total 460 'thanas' or sub-districts in this mainly agrarian country.

Farmers are going to each be trained at "field schools", FAO advisor Pachagounder told IPS. An estimated 84,000 will be using IPM methods on their plots of land by 2001, he said.

There are other international aid organizations and non- governmental groups doing similar work in Bangladesh. By the turn of the century, a Danida funded project would have cut down chemical pesticide use on farms in another 120 sub-districts.

But it will take more than this to fight pesticides manufacturers. Recently the government banned the retail sale of aluminium phosphate, but loopholes in the regulation still enable suppliers to sell to farmers who have grown dependent.

Similarly the decision to restrict the use of synthetic pyrethroids in paddy cultivation has been resisted by paddy farmers for whom its use has become standard practice, while the national Fish Research Institute revealed the harm it is doing to the country's fish resources.

While wiping out the target species in paddy, pyrethroid pesticides which flow into the lakes and ponds of this low-lying country are killing fish species, worried researchers said.

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Albion Monitor February 16, 1998 (

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