EDC Bharath Jairaj

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EDC Bharath Jairaj

  1. 1. Bharath Jairaj, CAG, India Household Pesticides and the Indifferent Consumer
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>Consumers encounter pesticides in various forms and meant for various purposes in everyday life. </li></ul><ul><li>India is home to several thousand species of pests – known to be the cause for spread of many diseases </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers and governments grab the closest (easily accessible) and most severe (potent) form of pest killers available to deal with the pest problem </li></ul><ul><li>These pesticides are as dangerous to humans as the pests </li></ul>
  3. 3. Known Pest Management Techniques <ul><li>Physical / mechanical methods – oldest system (traps, insect screens and nets, baits, plant guards, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Biological methods – use of parasites, predators etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Natural alternatives including organic methods and homemade pesticides with minimal health impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Chemical control mechanisms – including organic substances like pyretheum and inorganic derivatives of mercury, sulphur, arsenic etc. and synthetic compounds. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Problems <ul><li>Majority of pesticides used today are chemical pesticides and synthetic compounds. </li></ul><ul><li>Variety of attractively packaged ‘easy-to-use’ products are available in the supermarket and local grocery </li></ul><ul><li>Unregulated marketing and advertising suggests to the consumer that she can buy, store, handle, use and dispose – without any care or concern (e.g. advertisement showing happy baby asleep because mosquito killer is being used) </li></ul><ul><li>Some regulations mandate safety warnings and labels – information on active ingredients, directions for ‘safe use’, poisoning symptoms, first aid instructions, but who enforces this? </li></ul><ul><li>Is Consumer Ministry involved at all? And do consumers read such labels or follow advertising? </li></ul><ul><li>Is ‘safe use’ of chemical pesticides possible? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Areas for more work <ul><li>Analysis of existing legal frameworks – if narcotics and tobacco advertising is regulated, how can advertising and selling poisons be so easy? </li></ul><ul><li>Survey and analysis of regulatory institutions – who is supposed to be looking at what? (multiple agencies with overlapping functions?) </li></ul><ul><li>Reliability of ‘alternatives’ – are we sure we are not promoting other toxics? Need to ‘quality mark’ alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Massive effort needed to get more consumers and consumer groups informed and involved </li></ul>
  6. 6. Enhancing Consumer Awareness <ul><li>Massive campaign on consumer education is required – especially children and adolescents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Campaigns to make schools and universities ‘pesticide free’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Documenting and exposing misleading claims and ‘greenwash’ of pesticide advertising and marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Better understanding of what kind of consumer information is required on the products – for e.g., is it realistic to expect consumers to decipher chemical names of active ingredients? </li></ul><ul><li>Do we need country-specific labels / symbols? E.g. success of ‘green dot’ – ‘red dot’ food labelling in India </li></ul>
  7. 7. What about toxic-free homes? <ul><li>Household pesticides is one aspect of toxic use at home </li></ul><ul><li>Also present in paints, detergents, cleaning agents, batteries, CFL’s, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Recent study in India confirms presence of several chemicals and toxins in toys – including cadmium and lead. </li></ul><ul><li>Long battle ahead!! </li></ul>
  8. 8. A caveat… <ul><li>Pesticide manufacturers are famous for filing strategic law suits and defamation cases to fatigue campaigners. Examples from around the world – Philippines, India etc. </li></ul><ul><li>It is important for campaigners to anticipate this and therefore join hands in a global campaign </li></ul>
  9. 9. What can consumer groups do? <ul><li>Consumers as a group are capable of designing government policy – but consumers have remained silent for too long on the issue of household toxics. </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers must become more aware of the hazards and dangers of synthetic pesticides and other household chemicals and use our power of choice to stop buying and using them </li></ul><ul><li>Must join hands with local environmental, anti-toxics and health groups and lobby government to ensure a phase-out of these products from our homes </li></ul><ul><li>Join hands with the Consumers Korea, PAN-AP, CI global campaign! </li></ul>
  10. 10. THANK YOU! For more information contact: [email_address]

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