Millers, farmers warned over pesticide after paddy shipment to Europe rejected

An undisclosed amount of paddy was recently rejected by the European market after high levels of the pesticide Sevin was found prompting the Millers Association to call on millers and rice farmers to cease its use.

Head of the Association, Dr Peter deGroot told Stabroek News yesterday that the pesticide is banned in various EU countries and as a result a large quantity of paddy was rejected.

He said that he was surprised by the popularity of the pesticide here noting that he was not aware of its wide use considering the various others that are readily available. He noted however that the cost and the effectiveness did allow for its use by both farmers and millers.

The pesticide is in powder form and as a result it can be mixed with water and sprayed on the paddy to protect from weevils. Since it dries back to its powder form it leaves a residue.

Carbaryl, the active chemical in Sevin is a known carcinogen and has been known to affect immunity as well as cause fertility and birth defects although it remains a popular pesticide across the globe including in the United States.

deGroot noted that farmers and millers will need to make changes to market paddy and rice which will be heading to different markets with varying requirements.

Most recently, at the unveiling of the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board’s $46M chemical storage facility at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute at Mon Repos, calls were made for more to be done to prevent accidental and deliberate poisonings.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative       to Guyana, Reuben Robertson likened the purchasing of pesticides by farmers to the purchasing of prescription drugs by patients at a pharmacy. Robertson noted that the pharmacy would need to be compliant with a variety of rules and regulations and likewise without a prescription the sale of certain drugs would not be allowed.

Robertson voiced concern about seeing pesticide residue on produce being sold in the markets. “…I am also speaking here from personal experience, where I go to some of the markets and I see on some of these fruits and produce pesticide residue and the same produce and products are offered for sale to consumers. It tells us that we still have a substantial amount of work to be done and this again is a part of the education process,” he added at the unveiling in early November.

He spoke about the need for contained storage facilities that would work to alleviate any potential for damage to the environment.

“What is even more worrying to us is that we recognise in most of the Caricom countries that the education and promoting with respect to pesticides and their safe use are being done mainly when we have pesticide control week of activities. And that, we say, is worrying because when we consider the harmful effect and impacts of pesticides we recognise that while they are contributing to increasing production through the control of certain pests and diseases, be it on crop, be it on livestock or soil management, we have a moral responsibility to educate those who import, those who distribute, those who use, those who store on a continuous basis so that we avoid some of the ills that we now see showing their ugly heads within our members states,” Robertson added.

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