PESTICIDE BAN (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 - Agriculture)

News-CRUX-10     27th July 2023        
Samadhaan

Context: The Supreme Court criticised the Union government for appointing multiple expert committees to reassess the expert committee recommendations on banning hazardous pesticides in agriculture.

  • Though various committees recommended banning 27 pesticides, only three have been banned from the list.

Key Points

  • The bench raised questions over the 2015 Anupam Verma Committee report, which recommended banning 13 pesticides out of the list of 66 sought to be reviewed by the petitioners.
  • The Centre constituted SK Malhotra Committee in 2017, seeking a review on banning 27 pesticides. The committee reinstated the need to ban 27 pesticides in 2018.
  • Another sub-committee headed by SK Khurana was later appointed by the Pesticide Registration Committee, an apex body that regulates pesticides in India, to review the banning of 27 pesticides. This committee, too, recommended banning certain pesticides in 2020.
  • Anupam Varma Committee and Khurana Committee had proposed banning of same 27 pesticides. 
  • Despite this, another committee was formed (Rajendran Committee), which offered contrary recommendations, Bhushan told the court.

Background

  • A recent notification by the central government going back on its decision to ban 27 pesticides identified as health hazards by an expert committee has been flagged in the Supreme Court of India. A petition has sought a ban on all 27 pesticides, not just three, as proposed by a February 16, 2023 notification.
  • The central government in May 2020 had proposed banning 27 harmful pesticides identified as health hazards by an expert committee.
  • However, a draft notification by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare published on February 16 went back on the proposal, claiming just three of the 27 were “fit to be banned”.
  • The list of 27 was carved out of a more extensive set of 66 suggested to be banned to protect the farmers and consumers of the country.
  • On January 23, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to file an updated status report on the actions taken to regulate the ban on hazardous pesticides.
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