Lobby groups want harmful pesticides banned

Groups petition Parliament to outlaw use of harmful pesticides in the market

In Summary

• Pest Control Products Board says Kenya is a net importer of pesticide products.

• In 2018/2019 financial year, the country imported 14 million kilogrammes of chemicals valued at Sh11.96 billion.

A worker at Mombasa show ground sprays pesticides in preparations of the ASK Aug 14 2017.
A worker at Mombasa show ground sprays pesticides in preparations of the ASK Aug 14 2017.

Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei has petitioned Parliament to order the withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market.

The petition is on behalf of Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network, Resources Oriented Initiative Kenya and Route to Food Initiative.

The lobby groups say that there has been an increase in the prevalence of pesticides in Kenya, posing a risk to health and the environment.

They say the volume of imported herbicides, insecticides and fungicides has doubled in the past four years from 6,400 tonnes in 2015 to 15,600 tonnes in 2018.

“Despite this, there is no data available concerning the use of pesticides in food, water and soil and their related impacts,” the lobbyists say.

They have identified 24 products in the Kenyan market that are carcinogenic, 24 that can cause damage to genetic changes, 35 that can interfere with the hormonal system, 140 that can affect the nervous system and 262 products that show effects on reproduction toxicity.

The products are banned in Europe, United Kingdom and the USA.

But in an interview with the Star on August 28, Pest Control Products Board CEO Peter Opiyo said that some chemicals used in Kenya are not registered for use in Europe because they target pests of tropical crops not grown in EU.

“The decision to register or not to register a product for use in the EU is a commercial decision by the manufacturer,” Opiyo said.

The petitioners also accused the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service of contravening Section 15 of the Pest Control Product Act by failing to publish available information on the actual levels of pesticides in food samples, and not putting in place regular monitoring system.

“There are no epidemiological health studies related to pesticide exposure on our health and their impact to the environment,” the petition read.

The petitioners want the government to withdraw all harmful and toxic pesticides in Kenya's market.

“We recommend the government to establish and strengthen the monitoring system on the use of pesticides through increased data collection on food samples in the market. We also recommend amendment of the Pest Control Product Act to include a list of pesticides that have been withdrawn from the market based on the serious health risks posed to Kenyans,” the petition read.