Many pesticides which have been banned or severely restricted in some countries are in use in Kerala and other States.

Kerala banned the use of 15 pesticides in May this year. However, about a dozen pesticides which were either banned or severely restricted in other countries continue to be used in Kerala, C. Jayakumar of Thanal (an advocacy organisation campaigning against pesticides) told The Hindu. Moreover, several of the banned pesticides are still in use and some of the alternatives suggested officially are pesticides banned in other countries.

Currently, 67 pesticides which have been banned or restricted in some countries are in use in India. Though expert committees set up by the Central government have examined the matter, they had recommended continued use of the pesticides in most cases. In some cases, they recommended that they be allowed for restricted use.

Committees that reviewed nearly half the pesticides were headed by C.D. Mayee who had reported that no link could be found between endosulfan and the health effects among those exposed to the pesticide in Kasaragod district. In almost all cases, Mr. Mayee had recommended continued use of the pesticides banned in other countries in India. In a few cases, restrictions were recommended.

The pesticides in use in Kerala include Carbaryl, Malathion, Acephate, Dimethoate, Chlorpyrifos, Lindane, Quinalphos, Phosphomidon, Carbandizm, Captan, Tridamorph, Practilachlor, 2.4–D and Glyphosate.

“We are caught in a pesticide trap and need to get out of these and look for green options such as biological control or non pesticide management that has been a huge success in Andhra Pradesh,” Dr. Jayakumar said.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture was often taking a stand in favour of continued use of harmful pesticides. A similar situation had existed in the United States in the seventies. In 1972, the U.S. Congress passed the “Federal Environmental Pesticides Control Act” which transferred all responsibility of pesticide registration and regulation to the USEPA, in large part to address the charges that the U.S.

Department of Agriculture suffered from pro-pesticide bias, says Kieth Douglass in his book Agroecology in Action. Those campaigning against pesticides say that a similar action was called for in India also.