By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
A group on the platform of Alliance for Action on Pesticides in Nigeria, AAPN and the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, among others have advocated the rights of citizens to know and understand the risks of Pesticides to decide whether they want to use them and also help users choose between different products.
The AAPN who made the call while presenting a communique from the workshop on Pesticides and Human Rights and Dossiers of Registered and Unregistered Pesticides in the Nigerian Markets, informed that more than 80% of farmers surveyed in Nigeria, do not know the chemicals they apply on their farms.
Presenting the dossier compiled by the AAPN and HOMEF with support from the Heinrich Boll Stiftung, Abuja today, they also informed that food-eating consumers do not know the chemicals in their foods.
AAPN, co-ordinator, Prof. Simon Irtwange stated that “More than 50 per cent of registered pesticides in Nigeria are highly hazardous pesticides, HHP, noting that over 40% of the registered active pesticides in Nigeria are already banned in the EU and other countries of the world.”
“The EU and Asia reject over 76% of Nigeria’s food exports for not meeting the required safety standards agricultural products like beans, sesame seed, melon seeds, dried fish and meat among others further noting that many of the HHPs registered have been proven to be linked to chronic health diseases such as cancer, kidney diseases, reproductive complications among several others,” he said.
The Don further stated that the trade, use and exposure to HHPs in Nigeria are largely monitored and poorly regulated along the entire pesticide value chain, especially at the point of usage, farms, stores, warehouses and institutions needing Fumigation.
AAPN’s co-coordinator, Donald Ikenna while presenting their findings revealed that of the 30 active ingredients reviewed in the dossier, 25 are categorised as Highly Hazardous Pesticides (83.3%), 3 as Moderately Hazardous Pesticide, 1 Slightly Hazardous Pesticide, while the last one is a pesticide unlikely to Present Acute Hazard”
“Eighteen (18) of the active ingredients are categorised as cancer-causing. (60%)Twenty-two (22) of them are endocrine disruptors (73%) Nineteen (19) are immunotoxins (63%), Eighteen (18) are neurotoxic (60%) and eighteen (18) are toxic on the reproductive system (60%)” he added
The Group in their recommendations, advocated regulatory measures by NAFDAC and FMARD, prohibition of importation, Phase-Out of Registered HHPs, Enforcement against unregistered sales, promotion of safer alternatives, Government Oversight, Promotion of Responsible Practices, Community Engagement, Emergency Response, Supply Chain Transparency and Stakeholder Education and Training.
Meanwhile, the Director, of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nnimmo Bassey has stressed the ‘Right to Know’, stating that every citizen by virtue of their inherent right to accurate and comprehensive information is entitled to make informed choices about the chemicals they and their families may be exposed to.
Bassey noted that the principles enshrined in the African Charter on human and people’s rights and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria underscores the importance of this right to preserving life, health and well
He said “The alarming revelation that a significant percentage of active ingredients in registered pesticides are internationally banned is a call to immediate action. It prompts us to reconsider our regulatory measures, phase out highly hazardous pesticides, and fortify our commitment to promoting safer alternatives”.
Deputy Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Mariann Bassey Orovwuje said the Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria (AAPN) is a loose coalition of over 80 civil society organizations, farmers and farm input dealers associations, academia, researchers, and interested members of the public which seeks to increase public awareness of pesticide issues for informed pesticide choice, and usage and shift to safer sustainable farm methods and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems/methods among others.
The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) on the other hand is an ecological think tank and an advocacy organization promoting environmental/climate justice and food sovereignty in Nigeria and Africa. HOMEF’s vision is for an ecologically just world where all beings live in harmony with Mother Earth and her driving mission is: working to support wholesome ecological and socially cohesive/inclusive communities where people live in solidarity and dignity.
HOMEFs work tackles problems created by the agricultural model that is basically colonial and sees food as a commodity thereby generating hunger and encouraging biodiversity erosion through approaches including by using genetic engineering in agriculture and harmful agricultural chemicals such as the HHPs.