'State of Glyphosate Use in India' Report Released

PAN India releases the report 'State of Glyphosate Use in India' in a webinar titled 'Elimination of the Uncultivated Greens: Glyphosate Usage in India' organised today, 16th October 2020


Report in Brief  

This report reveals the ground reality of glyphosate use in India based on field survey in seven Indian States. This study presents the fact that glyphosate use is happening in India violating the national regulations as well as the International Code of Conduct on Pesticides Management. An order issued by the West Bengal Agriculture Department in 2019, quoting the Secretary of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Government of India states that glyphosate formulations are ‘registered to be used in Tea Plantation Crop and non plantation area 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 with 16 of them in food crops.  In the light of mounting evidences on the unacceptable health and environmental outcomes of glyphosate, the ground reality of its use in India is seen as an ‘anarchic’ scenario.  This would have undesirable impacts on soil health, farm productivity, food safety, agriculture trade, public health, as well as environmental wellbeing in the country. The scenario of glyphosate use thus necessitates the urgent need of eliminating it from India.

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  • Glyphosate based herbicides are registered and approved in India for weed control in tea gardens and their non-crop areas. However, this study reports glyphosate use for weed control in more than 20 crop fields (16 of them are food crops) as well as non-crop areas.
  • Statistical data on pesticides in India shows that glyphosate stands at the second position in production and consumption among herbicides, following 2,4-D. The data for production and consumption shows a huge difference and little information is available on its export.
  • Six Indian states have brought in stringent restrictions or temporary bans or cancellation of licenses for glyphosate-based herbicides in their jurisdiction, considering indiscriminate use as well as health and environmental concerns.
  • The field study conducted in seven states reports use of 24 different brands of three formulations based on glyphosate. Glyphosate-based herbicide products are also sold in areas where the crop for which it has been approved is not grown.
  • 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.
  • The majority of farmers and workers interviewed in the study did not have training on glyphosate application, safety precautions, and use of PPE.
  • None of the farmers or workers interviewed reported use of recommended PPE while working with glyphosate or working in fields sprayed with glyphosate; rather some of them reported use of a cloth, hat, mask, glove, goggles of poor quality as safety measures.
  • Recommended PPE were not being sold in pesticide retail points where the field study was conducted.
  • Product label analysis for glyphosate reveals the following: application dosage was not given, proper information on use of PPE was not given, direction on proper disposal of containers was lacking, minimum precautionary statement information, and instruction leaflet was not attached to containers.
  • A number of practices that could lead to exposure to glyphosate were noted, including storage in house premises, working without adequate safety requirements, washing of spray equipments near to drinking and household use water sources, reuse of glyphosate containers for household purposes, etc.
  • Exposure to glyphosate was reported by a considerable percent of respondents due to spillage and wind drift. Burning sensation, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting, dysentery, headache, fever, skin fissures, increased heart rate, eye irritation, urinary infections, body pain, general weakness are the ill effects reported in this study by 15 % of farmers and  63% of workers.
  • The unintended use of glyphosate reported in this study raises serious concerns over residues in food commodities, food safety, agriculture trade, and environmental contamination, as well as the consequent short and long-term health and environmental impacts.
  • Monitoring of pesticide residues in India does not analyze for glyphosate residues in agriculture produce, hence the level and extend of contamination in food commodities remains unknown.

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