Pesticide Management Bill 2020 Need Critical Amendments
27th April 2020
Government of India is going to update its 50 year old pesticide legislation. Towards it, a bill named ‘Pesticide Management Bill 2020’ was just introduced in the Rajya Sabha after the Cabinet has approved it in February 2020. This bill, once passed would replace the existing Insecticides Act 1968, and two draft bills proposed in 2008 and 2017 in the same name. This bill intends to regulate the pesticide sector in India. However, this Bill has failed to address the ground reality of pesticide use in the country and require several amendments to protect health and environment.
The new Bill for regulating the pesticide sector, the Pesticide Management Bill 2020 has been presented in the Rajyasabha on 23rd March 2020. Once passed, the new act will replace the 50 year old Insecticide Act 1968. The draft bill in its definitions states that ‘a bill to regulate pesticides including their manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, pricing, storage, advertisement, sales, transport, distribution, use and disposal in order to ensure availability of safe and effective pesticides, and to strive to minimize risk to human beings, animals, living organisms other than pests, and the environment with an endeavor to promote pesticides that are biological and based on traditional knowledge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto’. However, this definition and the provisions in the bill do not reflect a number of prevailing important issues. Some of the critical facts amongst others are discussed here.
Many of the provisions of the draft bill indicate that it is actually meant for promoting and protecting business and the pesticide industry, and not for protecting human beings, animals and environment from harmful effects of pesticides in the prevailing conditions of use in the country. The term ‘to strive to minimize risk’ in the definition brings only a vague sense as the objective of the legislation, rather the objective should be presented clearly, and it could be ‘elimination of risk to human being…..and environment’.
Though the bill has some welcoming, remarkable provisions such as those for monitoring of pesticide poisoning and compensating legal hairs of victims, it does not address many critical issues of technical aspects.
The bill failed to address the actual pesticide use scenario and comprehensive registration process in view of pesticide risk reduction. Further, the bill never addressed protection of pesticide users, community and environment. Moreover, some of the clauses in the bill are actually meant to provide immunity to authority and pesticide business without inclusion of balancing accountability and transparency clauses. The current version of the bill, if approved and accepted without appropriate amendments would not be capable of serving the purpose of protecting health of humans, animals and ecosystem as well as the environment, as stated in the very definition of the Act. The proposed act should have addressed issues ensuring sustainable agriculture production without harming the environment, ensuring farmer and worker safety as well as safe food production, and gradually eliminating use of toxic pesticides by laying down a path towards wider adoption of non chemical pest management based on agroecology principles in realization of precautionary principle and assuring the rights guaranteed by the Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Moreover, national pesticide regulation should be compiled with internationally accepted criteria, standards and guidelines as well.
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