The growing threat from pesticides

Pesticide contaminates land and water when it escapes from production sites and storage tanks, when it runs off from fields from rains and winds, when it is discarded and when it is sprayed aerially.
Pesticide drift occurs when pesticides suspended in the air as particles are carried by wind to other areas, potentially contaminating them. Pesticides that are applied to crops can volatilize and may be blown by winds into nearby areas, potentially posing a threat to wildlife.
In the United States pesticides were found to pollute every stream and over 90% of wells sampled in a study by the US Geological Survey. Pesticide residues have also been found in rain and groundwater. Studies by the UK government showed that pesticide concentrations exceeded those allowable for drinking water in some samples of river water and groundwater.
Many of the chemicals used in pesticides are persistent soil contaminants, whose impact may endure for decades and adversely affect soil conservation. The use of pesticides decreases the general biodiversity in the soil. Not using the chemicals results in higher soil quality.
Pesticides inflict extremely widespread damage and many countries have acted to discourage pesticide usage through their biodiversity action plans. But in a survey of 820 boro (winter rice), potato, bean, eggplant, cabbage, sugarcane and mango farmers in Bangladesh, more than 47 percent of farmers were found to use more pesticides than needed to protect their crops.
With only four percent of farmers formally trained in pesticide use or handling, and over 87 percent freely admitting that they used little or no protective measures while applying pesticides, overuse is potentially a very threatening problem to farmers’ health as well as the environment in this country. These aspects were discussed in a recent workshop organized by the Bangladesh Crop Association at Rangpur on Monday. What the discussants had to say were reported in the media.
A great deal of positive changes can occur with the popularizing of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the country. IPM comprises a range of approaches, from carefully targeted or limited use of chemical pesticides to biological techniques that use natural parasites and predators to control pests. Interview results also suggest substantial health and ecological benefits from the same.
Thus, it is high time to be more serious about regulating the use of pesticides in Bangladesh. Not only farmers will have to be extensively trained in the use of pesticides to the extent necessary, they will have to be also extensively encouraged to go for IPM.


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