The untrammelled, excessive use of pesticides, which are applied by farmers to their croplands without following relevant instructions, is resulting in widespread pollution of ponds, canals and rivers. This has caused serious health hazards not only to humans but has also led to extinction of aquatic species. It is an ecological disaster waiting to happen, experts have warned.
If the authorities fail to control such excessive use of pesticides, the country may face an unmitigable disaster as dangerous materials are being passed to consumers through the food chain. Such pesticides are not only causing environmental degradation but are also making insects resistant to them.
Experts noted that most farmers are ignorant about the proper use of pesticides and as a result these are damaging their health, since they do not follow the relevant instructions on their use.
Besides, farmers are also using fake and branded but dangerous insecticides. These are the cause of great health hazards for humans, including themselves, and pose a threat to nature.
“Most of the farmers do not know the right amount of pesticides needed for destroying pests. Most of them use pesticides in an unscientific manner, resulting in health hazards and pollution of the wetlands,” experts noted.
Scientists said the use of spurious pesticides has risen with rising market demand. As a result, particular pesticides often fail to kill pests, which develop resistance. The farmers then use three or four types of insecticides at a time, thinking that a cocktail of these would be potent enough to eliminate the pests.
Nirmal Kumar Dutta, senior scientific officer of the entomology division of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institution (BARI), told The Independent that residues of pesticides stick to crops even after they are
harvested. “People may suffer from many diseases, including cancer, liver cirrhosis and kidney problems if they consume such crops dipped in pesticides.”
“Pesticides are found in the water of many ponds and canals. As a result, we are losing many species of birds, aquatic creatures, worms and many insects which are useful for crops as a result of the uncontrolled and unscientific use of pesticides,” he said.
Awareness should be generated among farmers about the proper use of pesticides, Dutta said, adding, “We have learnt to use pesticides for protecting crops, but it should be done in a scientific way. We should introduce bio-pesticides instead of poisonous chemical pesticides. It would be disastrous for the nation if we fail to stop uncontrolled use of pesticides.”
Prof. Dr M Mahbubar Rahman, vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, said, “Farmers are now using bio-degradable pesticides. But some pesticides, such as Endosulfan, are still being used by the farmers. This pesticide is very harmful for the environment. We are in the process of banning it,” said Prof. Mahbubar Rahman, who is also a member of the Pesticide Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC).
Describing Endosulfan as a persistent pollutant organic pesticide, the pesticides expert noted, “This particular pesticide is harmful for aquatic life. Developed countries have already banned it considering its negative impact on the environment.” He suggested that pesticides should be used cautiously and in an appropriate way. Dr Gazi Zainal Abedin, senior scientific officer of the Soil Resource Development Institute, said, “Excessive use of pesticides destroy microorganisms of the soil, denuding it of its fertility.”
“Soil fertility is decreasing because of the excessive use of pesticides. We should use bio-pesticides to protect the fertility of the soil,” he suggested. The plant protection wing of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has cancelled 195 registrations of pesticides belonging to different brands available in the markets, DAE’s pesticide regulation officer Nazmul Ahsan said. The registrations of 20 more different brands would be cancelled soon, he added. He added that 2,900 different kinds of pesticide products are available in the market.
“There are two types of pesticides — one for highlands and one for lowlands. It would be harmful for the water if farmers use the pesticides meant for highlands in the lowlands,” he observed. Registration is given to pesticides only after the approval of the PTAC is obtained, he added. He further said the PTAC takes into consideration environmental issues, toxic levels for fish survival and health hazards before giving approval to pesticides.
-With The Independent input