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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Highly hazardous pesticides should be phased out in developing countries

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Photo: ©FAO/Asim Hafeez

The tragic incident in Bihar, India, where 23 school children died after eating a school meal contaminated with monocrotophos, is an important reminder to speed up the withdrawal of highly hazardous pesticides from markets in developing countries, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

Monocrotophos is an organophosphorus pesticide that is considered highly hazardous by FAO and the World Health Organization. Experience in many developing countries shows that the distribution and use of such highly toxic products very often poses a serious risk to human health and the environment.

The incident in Bihar underscores that secure storage of pesticide products and safe disposal of empty pesticide containers are risk reduction measures which are just as crucial as more prominent field-oriented steps like wearing proper protective masks and clothing.

The entire distribution and disposal cycle for highly hazardous pesticides carries significant risks. Safeguards are difficult to ensure in many  countries.

Among international organizations, including FAO, the World Health Organization and the World Bank, there is consensus that highly hazardous products should not be available to small scale farmers who lack knowledge and the proper sprayers, protective gear and storage facilities to manage such products appropriately.

FAO therefore recommends that governments in developing countries should speed up the withdrawal of highly hazardous...
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