Weekly Current Affairs: April week-1 - Pesticide Management Bill 2020

  • Category
    Agriculture
  • Published
    9th Apr, 2020

Context

The Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 to regulate business of pesticides and compensate farmers in case of losses from usage of spurious agro-chemical has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

About

  • The Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 defines pesticides as substances that destroy or control the spread of pests in agricultural commodities and animal feeds.
  • By doing so, the PMB is seemingly narrowing down the scope of coverage of pesticides and may have overlooked their use for storage pests, vector control for human health and other non-agricultural purposes.
  • Mechanism: Mechanisms to regulate pesticides were, however, mentioned in the bill. These included manufacture, import, packaging, labelling, pricing, storage, advertisement, sale, transport, distribution, use and disposal in order to ensure availability of safe and effective pesticides.
  • Objective: The purpose of the bill is to minimise risk to human beings, animals, living organisms other than pests and the environment, with an endeavour to promote pesticides that are biological and based on traditional knowledge.
  • The Bill includes a provision to compensate farmers in case of losses due to the use of spurious or low-quality pesticides.
    • The punishment for cheating farmers has also been drastically enhanced so that it will act as a deterrent to wrong-doers.
  • Any person who wants to import, manufacture or export pesticides will have to register under the new Bill and provide all details regarding any claims, expected performance, efficacy, safety, usage instructions and infrastructure available to stock that pesticide.
    • The information will also include details on the pesticide’s potential effects on the environment.

Background:

  • The Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 will repeal the Insecticide Act, 1968 that currently regulates pesticide use in the country.
  • It was approved by the Union cabinet in February 2020.
  • A draft Pesticide Management Bill, 2017was earlier released for comments in February 2018.  A similar bill was in discussion in 2008, without any break-through.

What was the need of such bill?

  • The reason cited by the government for introducing this new bill was the inadequacy of the 50-year-old insecticide law to meet the needs of multi-dimensional management and administration of pesticides.
  • This included a lack of sufficient deterrence against violation, no stricter penalty to safeguard farmer interests and no mechanism to regulate pricing and disposal in an environmentally sound manner.

Critical issues

  • Some of the critical issues in focus in recent years due to the misuse or overuse of pesticides are:
    • residues in food items
    • pesticide-resistance among pests
    • emergence of new pests
    • unintentional poisoning of workers and animals
    • degradation of biodiversity
  • In view of this, India’s scientists and lawmakers have begun to discuss the shortcomings of the Insecticides Act, 1968, and focus on sustainable agriculture practices.
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