Media Statement | PAN India | 1st June 2019


PAN India welcome Glyphosate ban in Kerala

Indicating focus on public interest, the Kerala Agriculture Department cancelled licenses for distribution and sales of the controversial weedicide glyphosate in the State. The department issued order on 24th May 2019, in a bold move. Earlier in February 2019, Kerala had temporarily banned distribution, sales and use of glyphosate in the state. Kerala is the fifth state in India to come up with stringent measures to ban glyphosate following Punjab, Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The Agriculture Department responded to cancel the licenses in Kerala over concerns of public health and environmental pollution. Agricultural University of Kerala had submitted a report to Agriculture Department demanding immediate action to control and regulate the use of weedicides containing glyphosate as it can cause harmful effects to humans, animals and soil organisms as well as development of herbicide resistant weeds. The February ban was based on this report. Later Agricultural University of Kerala was assigned to assess and submit a report on the problems caused by this weedicide in Kerala. Cancellation of licenses of glyphosate-based products is presently is based on these reports.

“We welcome the decision of the Kerala Agriculture Department to cancel licences for distribution and sales of glyphosate in the Kerala”, said Jayakumar Chelaton, Director of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India. He remarked that this can be a milestone in the efforts of State government to phase out highly hazardous pesticides (HHP). With this landmark decision, Kerala has joined governments in more than 30 countries who took stringent, adverse regulatory measures on glyphosate, he added.

Weedicides containing glyphosate is sold in markets in various names such as, Round up, Glycel, Glypfos, Safal, Weedoff, etc. Kerala government decided to act given the rampant and indiscriminate use of glyphosate in the State, induced by dubious marketing methods. Though glyphosate was approved for use only in tea plantations and non-crop area, in India, it has been widely used in across all crops of Kerala. Further, uses have been noted in courtyards, school premises, roadsides and public places. Due to this, residues of glyphosate were reported in food products as well.

Glyphosate Cancellation of License order, Government of Kerala

Governments of various countries have banned or severely restricted glyphosate on the grounds of protecting public health, food safety as well as protecting and maintaining a better environment for future generation. Joining this pantheon, Kerala government had canceled the license of glyphosate weedicides considering public health, food safety, ecological protection and agricultural sustainability. Kerala has always been at the forefront in India, in taking action against hazardous chemicals. the past, Kerala Government had taken similar action by banning 14 hazardous pesticides in 2011, following the endosulfan ban.

Globally, glyphosate is produced and licensed by the agrochemical giant Monsanto, now Bayer. Couple of years back, the International Agency for Research on Cancer had classified glyphosate a probable human carcinogen. Recently, three Californian courts ordered Monsanto to pay million dollars of compensation to patients who suffered with cancer following glyphosate use. In August last year, a San Francisco State Court found that the Round up, a glyphosate based weedicide has caused cancer to a farm worker.

“In the wake of international developments on glyphosate regulation, and demand from several State governments in India for stringent regulation, it is high time that government of India bans glyphosate nationally. Government of India has to help Kerala State, by harmonising this decision, across India. There is enough scientific evidence showing that glyphosate is harmful to human health and environment”, said Dr. Narasimha Reddy of PAN India. More funds and programmes on alternatives have to be taken up to get rid of this chemical.

“Literally, it is a ban on glyphosate in the state. This will be a crucial step in the process of converting Kerala in to Organic Farming State. However, more stringent regulatory measures are essential to achieve this considering local agro climatic and environmental conditions”, says Dileep Kumar from PAN India. “The Department of Agriculture has to take further efforts for scientific assessment on all the pesticides used in the state and then phase out all the highly hazardous ones that are harmful to health and environment. In addition, positive initiatives are needed from the agriculture department for promoting alternative non-chemical farming practices based on agroecology principles to convert Kerala into an natural farming state, and enable sustainable food production and facilitate resilient ecology, ensuring pesticide free food, and doubling farmer income by providing adequate market support”, he added.

While strict measures are being taken to control Glyphosate-containing herbicides, there are many challenges to the Department of Agriculture, Government and the Community. Though the license to sell glyphosate based herbicides in the state has been cancelled, cross-border trade on glyphosate needs to be blocked effectively as the products banned or restricted here are being brought in from neighboring States. Effective interventions to prevent pesticides coming from outside Kerala are needed to benefit from State actions on glyphosate.


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