Dangerous weedicide: No total ban
The Government will not impose a total ban on the herbicide known by its trade name “Roundup” which contains glyphosate, though some experts have warned it could cause cancer and is linked to the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Instead the Government will introduce measures to restrict the use of the herbicide only in areas where CKD is highly prevalent.
The move to ban the herbicide — widely used in the plantation sector and by paddy farmers — came from Special Projects Minister S.M. Chandrasena, who was once Minister of Agrarian Services. The decision not to go ahead with a total ban was made at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said representatives from the plantation sector had said any ban on the use of the herbicide would lead to a collapse of the entire sector. “The plantation sector representatives told us that there is a shortage of manual labour and hence they depend heavily on the herbicide for weed control.
If there’s a ban on its use, they told us that the entire sector could collapse within two or three months,” Minister Abeywardena said.He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had suggested that a committee of experts be set up to look into the matter. In the meantime, he had said the use of the herbicide should be restricted in CKD-prevalent areas and insted organic farming promoted in those areas.
The minister said he would shortly gazette the areas where the restrictions would apply even though there has been no official demarcation of any area in the country as CKD prone. Some experts have linked glyphosate to the high incidence of CKD among farmers in many areas, particularly in the North Central Province (NCP).