India restricts use of glyphosate-based herbicides over health hazards, PAN India calls for ban, not restriction

Press Release | 28 October, 2022 | PAN India

A coffee field and near by areas sprayed with glyphosate based weedicide in Wayanad, Kerala.

Government of India has restricted the use of the widely used herbicide, glyphosate and its formulations all over the country, considering health hazards and risk to human and animal health. This dangerous weedicide has been registered for use in India under the Insecticides Act, of 1968 for weed control only in tea plantations, but is illegally being used for weed removal across a number of food and non food crop fields and premises of houses, institutions as well as to remove growth of vegetation everywhere.   PAN India feels that the decision to restrict glyphosate is inadequate and demands a complete ban. 

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India appreciates the efforts of the Government of India in recognizing that use of glyphosate involves health hazards and risk to human beings and animals. “It is indeed a remarkable development regarding the regulation of highly hazardous pesticides in India’ said, Jayakumar Chelaton, Director of PAN India. “As the government of India now satisfied with the fact that glyphosate use causes health hazards and risk to people and animals, it needs to be banned urgently.  Restricting use of glyphosate through pest control operators is inadequate as it cannot reduce or eliminate the inherent hazard of glyphosate and the risk arising from its use”, he added.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare issued an order, The Restriction on use of Glyphosate Order 2022 to restrict glyphosate usage in the country, as per a gazette notification dated 21st October 2022. The notification was published on the basis of the report that has been received from the Government of Kerala for prohibiting the distribution, sale, and use of Glyphosate and its derivatives earlier in 2019. The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare had issued the draft order during July 2020.

The order states ‘the use of Glyphosate is restricted and no person shall use Glyphosate except Pest Control Operators.’ As part of the implementation of the order, the government asked the holders of the registration certificates to return the certificates for further process, and also says if any person fails to return the registration certificates within three months; appropriate action will be taken under the Insecticides Act of 1968. The order also says, each state government has to look into this and shall take all such steps under the provisions of the said Act and the rules framed there under, as it considers necessary, for the execution of this order in the State.

“Use of glyphosate is seen everywhere in India, despite the fact that it has been approved for weed control in tea plantations only. Unintentional poisoning with glyphosate is happening in India, and a number of pesticide poisonings due to glyphosate were reported”, says Dr. Narasimha Reddy, a Public Policy Expert and advisor of PAN India. He added, “use of all weedicides including glyphosate is destroying uncultivated food resources and thereby destroying indigenous nutrition habits as well, making rural people and agricultural communities deprived of adequate nutrition, in addition to polluting ecosystems. Government needs to come forward to ban glyphosate urgently”.

Glyphosate is dangerous agrochemical widely used as weedicide. Glyphosate itself is very toxic, causing a wider range of effects on humans and the environment. Because of the inert ingredients, exposure to a glyphosate-based herbicide entails exposure to a wide range of other chemicals as well as the glyphosate, about which little information is available and the full health effects of which have not been established. Glyphosate formulations may contain a number of so-called ‘inert’ ingredients, most of which are not publicly known. It has been reported that many of the inert ingredients and contaminants in glyphosate result in increased toxicity to non-target organisms. Weedicides containing glyphosate are sold in markets in various names such as Round up, Glycel, Glypfos, Safal, Weedoff, etc. Globally, glyphosate is produced and licensed by the agrochemical giant Monsanto, now Bayer. Many companies produce glyphosate formulations. Couple of years back, the International Agency for Research on Cancer had classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Recently, three Californian courts ordered Monsanto to pay millions of dollars in compensation to patients who suffered with cancer following glyphosate use. In August 2018, a San Francisco State Court found that the Round up, a glyphosate-based weedicide, has caused cancer to a farm worker.

PAN India had done an extensive study on glyphosate use in India and published a report State of Glyphosate Use in Indiain 2020. “Thisreport reveals the ground reality of glyphosate use in India based on field surveys in seven Indian States. Glyphosate use is happening in the country violating the national regulations as well as the International Code of Conduct on Pesticides Management’, said Dileep Kumar of PAN India. He says that Glyphosate formulations are ‘registered to be used in Tea Plantation Crop and non-plantation areas accompanying the Tea crop and any use beyond this is illegal and in violation of the insecticides Act, 1968 and Rules, 1971. Ironically, this field study has noted at least 20 non-approved uses of glyphosate with 16 of them on food crops.  About 77 % of farmers and 41 % of workers reported use of glyphosate in weed control for several crops, all of them are non-approved uses for this herbicide in India. An earlier ICAR study also reported wide use of glyphosate based herbicides in several crops’, he added.

A PAN International monograph on glyphosate shows numerous research studies pointing to chronic toxic effects of glyphosate other than cancer, such as reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity. Signs and symptoms of exposure include irritation, swelling, tingling, itching or burning of the skin, photo-contact dermatitis, recurrent eczema, blisters, rashes; numbness in the face, swelling of the eye and lid, face, and joints; conjunctivitis, painful eyes, corneal injury, burning eyes, blurred vision, weeping eyes; oral and nasal discomfort, unpleasant taste, tingling and irritation of throat, sore throat; difficulty breathing, cough, coughing of blood, inflammation of lungs; nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, diarrhoea, weakness; rapid heartbeat, palpitations, raised blood pressure, dizziness, chest pains. Numerous occupational exposures and self poisoning with death have been reported for glyphosate.

Glyphosate has been banned or severely restricted in more than 35 countries,  of them are Srilanka, Netherlands, France, Colombia, Canada, Israel, and Argentina.Allowing continued use of  glyphosate in India would contribute to widespread use of illegal herbicide tolerant crops, which would endanger the agroecological nature of Indian farms, apart from spreading the toxic effects to people, animals and environment. As glyphosate is not approved for crops other than tea in India and considering its huge use and anticipating public health and environmental issues, some states such as Maharashtra, Telangana, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh tried to temporarily restrict its usage but ended up with little effectiveness. In 2019 the State of Kerala brought stringent restrictions including cancellation of licenses for glyphosate based herbicides in its jurisdiction considering indiscriminate use as well as health and environmental concerns.

The regulation allowing use of glyphosate through Pest Control Operators as put forth by the Restriction on use of Glyphosate Order, 2022, would be disastrous as the presence of such pest control operators is almost non-existent in the agriculture sector in India. Moreover, as any such regulations would actually contribute to black marketing and illegal trade of glyphosate-based herbicides in the country, which will in turn endanger health and environmental well being for Indian citizens as well as India’s rich biodiversity.

PAN India urges the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to completely ban glyphosate (import, production, sales and use) in India, considering its health and environmental effects and widespread illegal use. Further, we urge the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to initiate legal/prosecution actions against the responsible institutions, agencies and industry for illegally recommending glyphosate for weed control in crops/farms violating the national approved use. Compensation should be paid to people who are poisoned by glyphosate. Ecosystem restoration should also be taken up, especially soils poisoned by glyphosate.

Additionally, PAN India recommends the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to put in efforts to develop and facilitate usage of non-toxic weed management products that help boost sustainable, non-chemical farming methods.



Dr. Narasimha Reddy Phone : +91 90102 05742

A. D. Dileep Kumar; Phone : +91 94473 40748

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