The pesticide hazard in Maharashtra


  • Borisinh village is one of the many villages in Maharashtra where farmers are suffering from pesticide poisoning.

What are Pesticides?

  • Pesticides are substances which are used to kill, repel, or control forms of animal and plant life that are considered to damage or be a nuisance in agriculture and domestic life.
  • Broadly speaking, pesticides includes these types of chemicals:
  • Herbicidesare substances which destroy or control weeds and other unwanted vegetation. They are generally used on lawns.
  • Insecticides cankill or control insects. They are basically used in agriculture, industry, businesses, and households.
  • Fungicidesare used to control fungi and can be used on plants or other surfaces where mold or mildew grow. They also have a role in protecting crops.

Effects of Pesticides on Human health:

Acute (Immediate) Health Effects:

  • Immediate health effects from pesticide exposure may include irritation of the nose, throat, and skin causing burning and itching as well as rashes and blisters.
  • Nausea, dizziness and diarrhea are also in general common.
  • People who are having asthma may have very severe reactions to some pesticides, especially pyrethrin/pyrethroid, organophosphate and carbamate pesticides.

Chronic (Long-term) Health Effects:

  • Chronic health effects cause long term effects.
  • Chronic effects may not appear for weeks, months or even years after exposure to the pesticides, making it much more difficult to link health impacts to pesticides.
  • The various longterm impacts that are associated with pesticides are:
  1. cancer and other tumors;
  2. brain and nervous system damage;
  3. birth defects; infertility and other reproductive problems; and
  4. damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and other body organs
  5. immunotoxicity
  6. Disruption of endocrine system

Global criticism against pesticide usage in India:

  • In 2017, reports of pesticide poisoning eminated from Maharashtra drawing global criticism against India’s pesticide regulation policies.
  • Subsequently in 2017 and 2018, after a large number of cases emerged, the distribution and sale of certain insecticides like Profenophos, Fipronil, Acephate, Difenthiron, and Monochrotophos was prohibited for 60 days in various districts such as Akola, Amaravati, Buldhana, Washim, and Yavatmal.
  • But, it is a concerning that Monocrotophos is still extensively used in Maharashtra for white fly, as well as to boost plant growth.
  • It is actually not licensed for usage on food crops but farmers use it due to lack of awareness.
  • In Yavatmal, Monocrotophos and Polo were found in use by even a government task force committee in 2017­18.

Steps taken by Government:

  • The government admits that misbranded or substandard pesticides are being manufactured and sold in the State which is a cause of concern.
  • The Maharashtra government introduced a Bill in the Legislative Assembly recently (on August 8, 2023), to amend the Insecticide Act, 1968 in the State.
  • Through this Bill, the government is aiming to punish the manufacture and sale of adulterated, non­standard, or misbranded insecticides in the state.

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