Earlier this month, the Government of India proposed to phase out 27 pesticides that have already been banned in one or more other countries. PAN India announced strong support for the proposed bans, which reflect many years of persistent advocacy on the part of PAN and partner groups in India.
Sixteen of the pesticides slated for elimination are still registered in the U.S., and some, such as the herbicide atrazine, are widely used.
Many of the chemicals slated for elimination in India are highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) with potential to cause severe health effects, including hormonal changes, neurotoxic effects, reproductive and developmental health effects or cancer, as well as environmental impacts such as toxicity to bees and other pollinators.
Jayakumar Chelaton, Director of PAN India, called the proposed bans “a hopeful move by the Indian government for protecting public health and environmental well-being.”
“Many of the pesticides proposed for banning are implicated in both occupational and self-poisonings in India. Banning them is expected to bring down poisoning incidences and ensure a safe working farm environment in the country.”
PAN India is urging the Ministry of Agriculture to finalize the bans without delay. The move is strongly supported by PAN International, which has an ongoing campaign focused on replacing use of HHPs in agriculture with agroecological approaches by 2030.
U.S. falls further behind
Last year our colleagues at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) published an analysis of pesticide bans and restrictions in four of the largest agricultural economies in the world: China, Brazil, Europe and the U.S.
They found that the U.S. ranked fourth on this list, trailing the other countries significantly.
As CBD’s senior scientist Dr. Nathan Donley highlights, the U.S. uses around 320, 40 and 26 million pounds of pesticides each year that the EU, China and Brazil, respectively, have deemed too dangerous to use within their borders.
If the India bans go through, the U.S. will slide to fifth place in terms of effectively protecting public health and the environment from harmful pesticides. Meanwhile, the corporate capture of public agencies in this country continues, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently streamlining approvals of dangerous pesticides and rolling back public health protections.
As PAN’s Executive Director Kristin Schafer notes in this recent blog, here in the U.S. it’s time to take our government back.