The Pesticides Management Bill can be Pesticide (Production and Distribution) Management Bill, 2008

21st March, Patna. Pesticide industry is an unregulated industry, which has been growing on the demand created by anxieties of the poor and marginal farmers, hollow scientific research and unscientific behaviour of scientists related to agriculture.

Pesticide Management Bill, as a next step, in the process of regulation is a welcome initiative. However, there are number of issues, as experienced from 1962, which have not been addressed by this Bill. Thus, one would be circumspect of the motive of the Bill, and the purpose it is expected to achieve. To discuss the context, pesticides have consistently proven to be a non-factor in agricultural productivity. Pesticides have become a huge burden on the economic and physical health of the farmers and their family members. Pesticides have come to occupy a major percentage of costs in the per acre cost of agricultural production. This is not because of any rise in pesticide prices, but due to the intensive, and unproductive usage of pesticides. Such a scenario has its implications on science of pesticides and policies.

Pesticide Management Bill, 2008, needs to be reviewed for the following:

  1. The Nomenclature of the bill is itself inappropriate. Instead, it can be Pesticide (Production and Distribution) Management Bill, 2008
  2. The five objectives of the Bill, as mentioned, do not bring into focus the core objectives of such a Bill, namely (a)Reducing the impact of chemical pesticides on natural resources, including land, water and all living species, (b) Prevention of misuse of pesticides for purposes other than crop protection, (c) Increasing the effective quality of the pesticides, (d) Reducing the incidence of residues in agricultural commodities, crop wastage, soil and water resources, (e) Controlling malpractices in research, production, marketing and distribution of pesticides
  3. The objective of this Bill is to control and regulate the production, marketing, sale and distribution of pesticides. The objectives cannot include the purpose of the pesticide, namely ‘control of pests’. This Bill should not be burdened with the mandate to control pests.
  4. In Chapter I (2), the Bill does not say this is replacing the existing Act (1962). This needs to be done, in case, the purpose is to update the existing Act. The wording “shall be in addition to” needs to be considered, and probably should be replaced with line, as mentioned in the Environment Protection Act, giving it a precedence
  5. Definitions should include “all living species” replacing the presently mentioned “animals”, as pesticide impact is on every living species including animals, birds, bacteria, etc.
  6. There should not be any “deemed registered pesticide” as scientific research is coming up with new evidences on pesticides registered earlier. Every pesticide, registered and unregistered, prior to this Act, should go through a similar process of registration.
  7. Overall, the section on definitions needs to be revisited, especially with regard to definitions such as ‘misbranding’, etc.
  8. Constitution of “Central Pesticides Board” is completely out of tune with its objectives. All the members are officials, whose primary purpose is to ‘control pests’ that is they create demand for pesticide usage. Their approach would be against the management of pesticides as this Bill envisages. Further, most of the them are fully loaded with their official work, and would not be able to give enough time for deliberations and discussions. There is a need to bring in more independent persons with knowledge into this Board
  9. Member Secretary should not be from the Directorate of Plant Protection, but from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry or Ministry of Environment
  10. The functions of the Board need to be revisited. Presently, it is only advisory in nature. Such a role would not help in achieving the objectives of the Bill, namely regulation and management of production, sale and distribution of pesticides.
  11. The relationship between the Board and the Registration Committee needs to be specified. Board should have the mandate to review the decisions of the Registration Committee, and also in defining the functions of the Registration Committee and also its constitution of members.
  12. In Chapter III, Section 12(3), the Bill calls for applicants to furnish information “on all the known inimical effects of the pesticide”. This should be changes to “on all the inimical effects of the pesticide, on the date of application, and periodically, later on, as the knowledge of science grows”
  13. All registrations, and related provision for submission of information by the applicant, should have a period. Every two years, these registrations should be reviewed by an independent scientific body, with due consultations.
  14. The Bill should prescribe a minimum fee in terms of percentage of the turnover or economic value of production (In Chapter III, Section 12(4)).
  15. In Chapter III, Section 12(6), there should be a provision to add, “any registration can be reviewed, if fresh evidence through proper research data is provided by a body of persons, or individuals, in public interest, by the Registrations Committee”.
  16. In Chapter III, Section 12(8) leaves scope for registration without any proper data. This provision should be removed. Hazardous substances without evidence cannot be permitted for sale and distribution as it would create scope for misuse.
  17. In Chapter III, Section 11(2), the Committee should also include in its functions: “- maintain a database of scientific and other research on the efficacy and inimical effects of various pesticides across the world”
  18. In Chapter IV, Grant of Licenses, the provision for a single Licensing Officer si fraught with pitfalls, as the individual would be overburdened and might not be in a position to arrive at suitable decisions. Instead, at the State Government level, a Board has to be constituted with similar functions as the Registration Committee, for licensing
  19. In Chapter IV, Grant of Licenses 21(1), accreditation of private laboratories should be a function of the Central Pesticide Board. The accreditation process has to be established by the Board, and not by the Plant Protection Adviser.
  20. In Chapter V, a provision has to be included: “Every pesticide that has been banned in any other country, that was registered in India, has to be reviewed with the available evidence, and the license for its production and distribution has to be decided upon accordingly”.
  21. There should be a ban on importing pesticide from the country of origin, wherein that pesticide has been banned from production, distribution or usage.
  22. In Chapter VII, offences and punishment, the penal provision of Rs.25,000 is far less to deter anybody from committing any offence. There has to be different rates at different levels. Probably, Rs.50,000 at the retail level should be sufficient, but the amount has to increase as the geographical area of offence increases. At the manufacturers level it has to be a percentage of the total turnover, say 10 percent.
  23. Same is the case with imprisonment.
  24. In Chapter VII, section 41 is very weak. Companies have to own up the liability. They should be made liable for all the inimical effects, immediately and over a period, of the pesticide manufactured by the company.

Addition issues that need consideration:

1. India is a party to various conventions by consent and participation. This Bill should include commitment to such Conventions such as Stockholm Convention. Central Pesticide Board should be responsible for implementation of all the International Conventions, wherein the government of India has become a party to

2. Criminal liability has to be built in for both manufacturers, distributors and marketers as many instances have been recorded, wherein pesticides have been used to for other than crop protection purposes such as poisoning of lakes, and other water bodies and suicides.

3. Licensing has to be made compulsory for all the links in entire supply chain of pesticides from manufacturers to the retailers.

4. Prescriptions by agricultural officers should also be brought under the ambit of regulation. All crop protection advises by various officers and bodies have to be recorded and adequately monitored for any misuse.

5. Emergency management clauses have to be built in, especially hazardous situations such fire accidents in the pesticide factories, spillovers on land and water, pesticide tanker collisions, etc. Local authorities such as Panchayats, municipal bodies, fire services, emergency medical services, etc. should also be included in this Bill. Provision of prior information and preparation of emergency management plans are required.

Pankaj Bhushan, GM Free Bihar Movement

 


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1 Response to “The Pesticides Management Bill can be Pesticide (Production and Distribution) Management Bill, 2008”


  1. 1 Dr.R.P.Shukla July 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Save the World from Synthetic Poisons and Promote Organic farming From Dr.R.P.Shukla_Punjab _India.

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