Pesticide Management Bill – 2020
- On 12th February, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020, which seeks to replace the Insecticides Act, 1968, for regulating the pesticide sector by fixing prices and setting up an authority.
- To regulate the business of pesticides and to promote the use of organic pesticides in the country.
- The current state of regulation of pesticides in India, using the extant law called Insecticides Act, 1968, has not caught up with post-modern pest management science nor has taken cognizance of a huge body of scientific evidence on the ill effects of synthetic pesticides.
- It is reported that eight states consume more than 70% of the pesticides used in India. Amongst the crops, paddy accounts for the maximum share of consumption (26-28%), followed by cotton (18-20%).
- The acute pesticide poisoning deaths and hospitalizations that Indian farmworkers and farmers fall prey to are ignominious by now. It is not just human beings but wildlife and livestock that are poisoned routinely by indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides across the country.
- The centre had released a draft of the Pesticides bill in February 2018 to replace the existing Insecticides Act of 1968. The draft bill proposed to raise penalties on the sale of prohibited pesticides to Rs. 50 lakh and a jail term up to five years from the current fine of Rs 2,000 and jail term up to three years.
- However, the Centre for Science and Environment, in 2018, had criticised the Bill for falling short as it provided inadequate representation to States in both pesticide board and the registration committee. According to it, the states should have a say in final decision making on pesticide, as they have the best understanding on the agro-ecological climate, environment and soil conditions.
- Complete Information: It provides farmers to be empowered to get all information about the strength and weakness of pesticides, the risk and alternatives as the data would be in open source and available in all languages. The information will also include details on the pesticide’s potential effects on the environment.
- Compensation Provision: It provides for compensating farmers in case of losses from use of spurious agro chemicals or low quality of pesticides. For this, if required, the government will form a central fund which will take care of compensation.
- Registration Requirement: Any person who wants to import, manufacture, or export pesticides would 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.
- Strict Regulatory Norms: It intends regulate pesticide-related advertisements to prevent manufacturers from making false claims about their products.
- Way to Sustainable Development: It will provide an opportunity to set right many shortcomings of the existing regulatory regime around pesticides in India and to clean up our food and farming systems, leading towards the sustainable development of the country.