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Doctors in Odisha’s Burla district, who saw herbicide paraquat kill around 170 people in the last two years, demand that the government ban it. They went on a two-day hunger strike, which ended on September 16, 2019, and may again resort to protests to have the government act.

There is no antidote to this herbicide, the consumers of which complain of kidney, liver and lung problems, said a doctor. “They may recover from kidney problems, but die of lung- and liver-related ailments.

➢ Paraquat is a toxic chemical that is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer), primarily for weed and grass control.

➢ It has been banned in 32 countries including Switzerland, where herbicide producing company Sygenta is based. Paraquat also figures on the list of 99 pesticides and herbicides the Supreme Court to ban in an ongoing case.

➢ So far in India, only Kerala has banned the herbicide.

➢ Paraquat dichloride is being used for 25 crops in India, whereas it is approved to be used on only nine crops by the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee. This is a violation of the Indian Insecticides Act 1968.

➢ Another violation: since farmers can’t and don’t read the label on paraquat containers, retailers sell paraquat in plastic carry bags and refill bottles.

Possible Solution

Governments world over need to be proactive to get it listed in PIC of Rotterdam Convention.

➢ Paraquat is yet to be listed in the prior informed consent (PIC) of Rotterdam Convention, is an international treaty on import/export of hazardous chemicals signed in 1998.

➢ India is also a party to the convention, which has 161 parties. If a chemical figures in the PIC, the exporting country has to take the importing nation’s prior consent before exporting it.

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