Nov 14, 2021 News
By Pat Dial
Kaieteur News – In the last week of October, Guyana commemorated Pesticide Awareness Week with the theme “Choose! Use! Alternative to toxic household, agricultural and public health pesticides for a better life and environment. Our Actions are our Future”. The Guyana Consumers Association (GCA) enthusiastically supports the goals of Pesticide Awareness Week and has had an abiding interest in educating consumers of the use as well as of the deleterious effects of pesticides.
Pesticides, and particularly chemical pesticides, have greatly increased in number and strength in the 20th century. They are used in homes, in industrial undertakings such as factories and in mining and in Agriculture. There are many types of pesticides and the main ones used in Guyana are Insecticides; Rodenticides; Herbicides; Fungicides; and Nematocides. Their use has greatly helped to increase human comfort and safety and has helped to increase the production of goods and food.
In homes or places like mining and other camps, insecticides keep away mosquitos, roaches, and flying insects in general and ants are controlled. Spraying eliminates mosquito and cockroaches and other flying insects and protects householders from diseases such as malaria and filaria spread by these insects. Mosquito coils are also widely used against these insects and insect repellants protect the person.
In factories and industrial buildings and complexes, pesticides are widely used to protect workers, to control wood ants and dangerous insects like Africanized bees. In factories which produce food, for example bakeries, rats and insects like cockroaches which destroy or contaminate foods are eliminated.
Agriculture uses the greatest variety of pesticides and the most toxic ones. In the sugar industry aerial spraying of the fields is practised and rodenticides to control rats and herbicides to control bush and grass are used. In fruit and vegetable cultivation spraying is done to control caterpillars, borer beetles and other such destructive insects.
The great value of pesticides is unquestionable but pesticides pose dangers to human life and health if not properly employed. In spraying or mixing pesticides, it is necessary to wear protective clothing which involves the wearing of suitable gloves and covering the body fully and using respirators or otherwise covering the nostrils. All pesticides are poisons and if a pesticide goes on the skin it will be absorbed into the body and if inhaled, it gets into the lungs. These poisons in the body are known to cause cancers and work to destroy various organs of the body. The effects of these poisons are both immediate and long term and could cause one to be unwell for most of one’s life.
The spraying of crops could cause dangers to human health if not carefully done. Aerial spraying of sugar fields is successful but spraying of market crop cultivations becomes dangerous when pesticides are over used since the poisons remain in the vegetables and are ingested into the body on consumption. This is particularly true of leafy vegetables (bhajis).
Other precautions that could be taken as for example with mosquito coils and home insecticides – Many of these products, produced in East Asia and smuggled into Guyana via Suriname, are highly perfumed and very toxic, and should never be bought or used. Clothes used when spraying should be washed separately and pesticide containers should never be reused for any purpose but should be disposed of immediately after use.
Though ordinary citizens must protect themselves from the danger pesticides pose, governments do recognise their responsibility of protecting their populations. In Guyana, the Ministry of Agriculture over the years, has kept abreast with the modern trends in the use and control of pesticides and, for example, has reduced the registration and importation of highly hazardous pesticides by 75 percent. It’s Pesticide and Chemicals Control Board is regarded as a leader in the Region and it has had the honour of piloting the model pesticides legislation for the Caribbean Region through CARICOM. Further, importers are encouraged to import safer biopesticides and sellers are trained to give guidance to purchasers as to how to safely use pesticides.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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