Mumbai: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has urged the Centre to completely ban on use of Glyphosate through Pest Control Operators (PCOs) in the agriculture in India. It has called upon the Centre to immediately withdraw to immediately withdraw the draft notification on use of Glyphosate Order 2020 saying that the entire concept ill-conceived and meaningless.
Glyphosate is essentially a broad spectrum weed killer whose main attraction is the saving of labour costs for farmers.
However, SJM in a letter to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation and Farmers Welfare said it will be impossible to implement and control illegal practices by which Glyphosate is presently being used. In fact, the proposal shall result in increased damage to consumer health, farmer interests, farm workers’ livelihoods and ecology. SJM feared that the order does not restrict sale but only usage to be done by PCOs and once a sale takes place, there will be no means of controlling usage by lakhs of farmers who may or may not use a PCO.
‘’We would like to bring it to your notice that this is the demand of around 2 lakh signatories to totally ban the use of Glyphosate through an online petition by the SJM since 2019, addressed to the Prime Minister,’’ said co-convenor Dr Ashwani Mahajan. He has reminded that currently there is already a restriction on use of Glyphosate other than for tea plantations and “non-crop areas” (whose definition is itself unclear despite some recent regulatory process). ‘’Yet glyphosate is blatantly being used for illegally grown Herbicide Tolerant (HT) cotton (HT soya was also reported from Gujarat) and this has been going on for years with the full knowledge of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, under the Ministry of Forests and Environment; and State Governments, but it continues unabated and with open defiance of the law,’’ he noted.
According to SJM, Glyphosate is being the subject of litigation and out of court settlements, primarily due to its risk of causing cancer. ‘’At present in US alone there are more than 1,25,000 law suits against the company producing herbicides with glyphosate as major ingredients, for having caused rampant spread of cancer. It’s notable that even of World Health Organization's (WHOs) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had declared Glyphosate to be probably carcinogenic,’’ it said.
Dr Mahajan said it is noteworthy that Kerala State, which is a major tea growing state, has asked for a ban on glyphosate and West Bengal which is another major tea growing state, has restricted glyphosate use to only 6 tea-growing districts and will not use it in any state government farms. This apart, several other states have been actively restricting use of glyphosate due to their concerns for consumers, farmers and environment.
‘’For India glyphosate spreading will be economically destructive as it destroys employment and removes a vital income source for poor rural households who depend on weeding income. It will result in rejection of export consignments containing Glyphosate residues by those countries who have strict levels for pesticide residues. It will damage the interests of farmers who are trying to avail of the growing domestic and global market for organic/natural/non chemical food,’’ he opined.