Economy

Parliament orders crackdown on toxic farming pesticides

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Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Parliament wants three State agencies to conduct analysis of all pesticides in the market and ban those containing cancer-causing ingredients.
  • The National Assembly’s Health committee directed the Agriculture ministry, the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to conduct the audit with a view of banning products that are carcinogenic.
  • The committee made the recommendations following an inquiry into a public petition filed by Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei that asked Parliament to order the withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market.

Parliament wants three State agencies to conduct analysis of all pesticides in the market and ban those containing cancer-causing ingredients.

The National Assembly’s Health committee directed the Agriculture ministry, the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to conduct the audit with a view of banning products that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disruptors and neurotic.

“That within 90 days of the tabling of this report, the Ministry of Agriculture in consultation with Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies including PCPB and Kebs undertake an analysis of harmful and toxic pesticides and recommend their withdrawal from the Kenyan market as per the relevant laws,” the committee said in an inquiry report.

The committee made the recommendations following an inquiry into a public petition filed by Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei that asked Parliament to order the withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market.

Ms Shollei filed the petition on behalf of Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network, Resources Oriented Initiative Kenya and Route to Food Initiative.

The lobby groups had argued that there has been an increase in the prevalence of pesticides in Kenya, posing a risk to health and the environment.

The pressure groups told the committee chaired by Muranga Women Representative Sabina Chege that the volume of imported herbicides, insecticides and fungicides had doubled in the past four years from 6,400 tonnes in 2015 to 15,600 tonnes in 2018.

The petitioners singled out 24 products in the Kenyan market that are carcinogenic, 24 that can cause damage to genetic changes, 35 that can interfere with the hormonal system, 140 that can affect the nervous system and 262 products that show effects on reproduction toxicity.

They claimed that the products are banned in Europe, United Kingdom and the USA.

The committee has recommended that the PCPB must ensure that products banned in other jurisdiction are not in use in Kenya.

“That within 90 days of tabling this report, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries through the Pest Control Product Board to immediately establish the regulations on distribution and retailing of pesticides to ensure that only licensed and registered persons operate agro-vets outlets in the country,” said the committee.

The team wants the Pest Control Product Board Act, 2013 amended to provide for PCPB to access data on environmental and human health impacts during the registration and re-registration process of products.

“All agrochemicals companies should ensure proper use of their products through adequate labeling using the widely used national language and take responsibility where harm occurs due to lack of sufficient information,” the report states.

The committee asked the National Treasury to increase the budgetary allocation to PCPB to enable it increase the number of technical personnel to ensure adequate evaluation of pest control products is done.