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     Home > Justice and Peace >  2013-07-31 16:15:27
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India school deaths highlight need to phase out toxic pesticides



31 July 2013: The tragic incident in India in which nearly two dozen children died after eating a contaminated school meal is a stark reminder that highly hazardous pesticides should be phased out in developing countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday. On 17 July, 23 children in the village of Dharmasati Gandawa in the eastern state of Bihar died, after eating a free school lunch that was made with cooking oil tainted with the monocrotophos pesticide. This substance is widely used in India in spite of being described as having “high acute toxicity” by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO). In a news release, FAO stressed that the distribution and use of highly toxic pesticides in many developing countries, poses a serious risk to human health and the environment, and measures to put safeguards in place to protect the population must be implemented.
“The incident in Bihar underscores that secure storage of pesticide products and safe disposal of empty pesticide containers are risk reduction measures which are just as crucial as more prominent field-oriented steps like wearing proper protective masks and clothing,” FAO said. . This pesticide has been banned in Australia, China, the European Union and the United States, and in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. “There is consensus that highly hazardous products should not be available to small-scale farmers who lack knowledge and the proper sprayers, protective gear and storage facilities to manage such products appropriately,” FAO said. recommending that governments in developing countries speed up the withdrawal of highly hazardous pesticides from their markets and switch to non-chemical and less toxic alternatives.
Source: UN




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