Pesticide Management Bill 2017 is not comprehensive enough to address the multitude of concerns about pesticides in India, according to toxicity watchdog Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India. India is one of the world’s largest food producers and the fourth largest global producer of pesticides with an estimated market size of around $4.9 billion in FY17 after United States, Japan and China. Deaths of farmers due to pesticide poisoning in Maharashtra grabbed public attention in 2017, with the state government banning five pesticides in October, including an organophosphate chemical called monocrotophos. The Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare made the draft bill available to stakeholders and public during the second half of February 2018 and sought comments within 15 days. D Narasimha Reddy, director of PAN India says, “This draft 2017 bill is almost similar to the 2008 version, which was rejected by farmers groups. The core principle of active regulation is missing in this draft, even while it ignores the need for price control, knowledge-based, participatory and sustained monitoring of toxicity and impacts. It merely lays down steps of registration that transition from paper-based procedure to digital system, without adding any facilitating provision for transparency, consultative and sharing mechanisms.”
The process of registration and review of pesticides must have to undergo a comprehensive public health risk and environmental risk assessments, need assessment, efficiency assessment, assessment of alternatives, etc. as per the respective guidelines. “Pesticide Management Bill 2017 is not inclusive and does not take cognizance of horrible experiences of Indian farmers and general people who are impacted by the toxicity, which is growing in tandem with the profits. Indian government representation in international conventions such as Rotterdam and Stockholm is at best based on adhocism. The proposed Central Pesticides Board does not have any function that links it to this process,” Jayakumar Chelaton, director of PAN India said.