Petitioners seeking the withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in Kenya have welcomed recommendations by a parliamentary health committee.
In a report, the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Health said that evidence on the toxins presented before it establishes a real public health concern.
The report also recommended that farmers and consumers be empowered to access sufficient information regarding pesticides including their risks and safe use.
According to the Health Committee, many complex problems have emerged as a result of increased exposure to agricultural chemicals such as an increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases and environmental degradation.
It tasked bodies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to undertake an analysis of harmful and toxic pesticides and recommend their withdrawal from the Kenyan market as per the relevant laws within 90 days.
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“It is our hope that the government agencies above will include independent researchers and the petitioners in the teams carrying out this analysis in line with the values of integrity, transparency, and accountability laid out in the constitution,” said the petitioners.
“This indeed presents a superb opportunity for the relevant ministries, departments, and agencies to take the lead in cleaning up the food and farming system of our country.”
The petitioners include the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA-K), Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Resources Oriented Development Initiatives (RODI Kenya), and Route to Food Initiative (RTFI).
The Health Committee also ordered the Ministry of Health together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to, within 6 months, conduct epidemiological studies in the country to determine the level of use of harmful pesticides and the disease burden caused, with these studies subsequently guiding the formulation of an informed national policy on pesticide use and management.