Don stresses increased awareness on danger of indiscriminate use of pesticides

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By Our Correspondent in Ilorin

A Don at the University of Ilorin, Professor Suleiman Folorunsho Ambali, has stressed the need for Increased awareness and advocacy on the dangers of indiscriminate use and disposition of pesticides.

Ambali of the Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the instruction made the call at the 192nd Inaugural lecture of the university.

The lecture has the theme: ‘ Preventing Pesticides From Poisoning Away Our Health And Future-The Oxidative Approach’.

The don also called on government and non-govenmental organisations to mobilise on the task of educating the public on the inherent danger of indiscriminate use of pesticides.

This he said became imperative ,especially pregnant mothers and children participating in farming activities.

According to the academic,this class of population need to be well protected from getting exposed to pesticides regarding regular and proper maintenance of spraying equipment to avoid splashing of such chemical on them.

He said: “Measures aimed at encouraging the safe usage of pesticides by farmers, pesticide applicators and other individuals whose occupations are related to pesticides should be put in place.

“Policies aimed at reducing the use of pesticides in agricuture should be put in place.

” Farmers should be encouraged to use an integrated approach in controlling pests and where necessary, develop alternative cropping systems less dependent on pesticides.

“There should a revert to traditional hand hoeing, hand weeding, use of pest-resistant seeds and organic farming systems devoid of  agrochemical application

“There is a need to strengthen the regulatory framework and processes for the continuous re-evaluation of all registered pesticides in line with available information, especially on all aspects of safety to people and the environment.

” Many pesticides are placed on the market with insufficient testing other than the traditional, acute and chronic toxicity studies. Many of the tests related to specific end-points are absent from regulatory directives.

” National Agency for Food Drug and Control (NAFDAC) and National Enviromental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) shouid take the lead in this aspect by working with research experts in our higher institutions of learning.

” I recommend that the 5-year validity permit granted by NAFDAC for specific brands of pesticides that can be used in the country should be downgraded to three years as new information concerning safety level of the chemicals comes out frequently.

“There is a need to also tighten the procedures for registration of new pesticides with safety considerations put at the front burner.

” Pesticides that are poorly labeled or labeled with foreign languages, not inteligible to the populace, should be banned from being imported into the country.

“There is need for the development of the national strategic framework that will ensure the enforcement and constant revision of legislation and regulatory control on the manufacturers of pesticides.

“The measure should also include importation sales, usage and residues, importation, sales of usage of such chemical.

The don also advocated establishment of a National Agency for the Monitoring and Control of residues from hazardous chemicals.

“This is to be excised from NAFDAC whose role in combating the menace of fake drugs and pharmacovigilance is already overwhelming.

“There should be strengthenings of research facilities existing in higher institutions of learning to develop local safety limits acceptable daily intake of pesticides.

“Data being branded are those from Western countries where climate, diet, culture, economic and social status differ from what is obtainable in our environment.

” In addition, these institutions can be encouraged to develop cheap but effective substitutes to pesticides that accurately target more environmentally friendly pests that do not leach into the soil.”

The academic noted that newer pesticide formulations in the market were relatively safer, less hazardous and more environmentally friendly, compared to the traditional ones being patronised by farmers, but very expensive.

“Therefore, government must continuously subsidise the cost of procuring these newer pesticide formulations to encourage their use by farmers.

“In doing that, government may consider raising tax payable for the imported traditional and more hazardous pesticides to discourage their use.

“There should be provision for more storage facilities by government at all levels to ensure that chemicals and methods used for storage of agricultural produce are in line with the global best practices.

“The government,should as a matter of urgency, address economic inequalities that have made peasant farmers poorer.

“Lack of adherence to specified decay period of pesticides used for storage of agricultural produce by arable farmers and non-adherence to withdrawal periods before turning the by-products to the market borders more on economic pressure than even the awareness of the hazards.”

He called for enligtment of healthcare providers and other personnel in the health management team, on the need to consider pesticide poisoning as differential in the diagnosis of some diseases.

According to Ambali, this becomes important,especially in those individuals exposed to pesticides by virtue of their occupation.

According to him, this will help streamline the management and prognostic options available.

On border control, the professor said the country’s borders must be strengthened to ensure effective control in the importation of dangerous and hazardous pesticides, some of which he noted had been banned in the developed countries.

He advised government to ban the open sale of pesticides and ensures that those involved in their sales and procurement are knowledgeable enough to understand the health and environmental implications of unwholesome pesticide handling and application.

“Since oxidative stress is central to pesticide poisoning, it is strongly advocated that antioxidants be incorporated into its therapeutic and prophylactic management strategies in man and animals.

” Indeed, it is recommended that individuals who are likely to be involved in pesticides application take a prophylactic dose of antioxidants to mitigate the expected health outcomes, following accidental exposure.”

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