Kerala govt bans deadly weed killer

Kerala govt bans deadly weed killer
Representational image. Photo: iStock

Thiruvananthapuram: The sale, distribution and use of glyphosate and other products that include glyphosate have been fully banned in the Kerala. "This is part of the state's efforts to gradually phase out pesticide use in the state," Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar said in the Kerala Assembly on Monday.

Among the products that will go out of sale in the state is the herbicide RoundUp, which was produced by the American agrochemical giant Monsanto and is now owned by Bayer AG, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The use of Glycel, another glyphosate used widely, will also become illegal. The Kerala University has also been asked to submit a report within three months on the impact of glyphosate on the ecosystem of the state. With the ban on glyphosate, the number of pesticides banned in the state since 2011 has risen to 28.

Glyphosate is one of the seven pesticides declared as a 'controlled pesticide' by the state government. The agriculture minister said that though the use of pesticides had shown a decline, the use of weedicides like glyphosate has shot up dramatically. In two years, its use has increased by over 71 per cent.

According to rules, glyphosate can be used only in coffee plantations and lands that had not been cultivated. “But we have found that this is being used widely in paddy lands before planting is done. It is also being used to destroy the weeds around pineapple and plantain crops. This dangerous chemical is also used to destroy the grass that sprouts in between the inter-locking tiles laid upon house courtyards,” the minister said. A high-level meeting convened by the minister on January 29 had concluded that the unrestricted use of the weedicide was highly damaging to a state rich in water sources.

Besides the ban on glyphosate, the minister also announced other steps to prevent the unbridled use of pesticides in the state. “The practice of pesticide companies and their agents approaching farmers and instructing them on the use of their products has also been banned,” the minister said. The companies will also be prohibited from giving classes to farmers in retail pesticide outlets. An enforcement wing will also be formed for the purpose. “We have told the government about the number of posts to be created,” Sunil Kumar said.

Further, a pesticide can be sold only on the basis of a prescription from the government agriculture officer. “Strict action will be taken against the retailer if the pesticide is sold without prescription,” the agriculture minister said.

An awareness drive will also be initiated. Details like how a pesticide has to be used, on which crops it can be used and the dosage, its side-effects, and the precautions to be taken before spraying the pesticide would be displayed in simple language in front of retail outlets.

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