For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

Coalition Calls For Drafting Of New Pesticide Control Bill.

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria (AAPN), a loose coalition of over 80 civil society organisations and other stakeholders has called on the National Assembly, to consider drafting a new pesticide control bill 2023 with the primary aim of protecting the health of Nigerians.

The Coalition also called on the legislative body to disregard any pesticide-related bills presented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and rural development FMARD, Farm Inputs Support Services, FISS. Alleging they lack transparency, accountability, openness, and zero public participation.

The call formed parts of recommendations by the coalition while briefing Newsmen on: ‘CSO Review of the Pesticide Legislation: Call for Caution and Improvement’ which was held in Abuja yesterday.

Describing the NAFDAC Pesticide Registration Regulation 2021 as a commendable effort by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC), Co-convener and Leader AAPN/President Yam Farmers Association of Nigeria, Prof. Simon Irtwange in his recommendations called for caution as he queried the rush by the FISS.

In his words” What is the point of rushing, if we are heading in the wrong direction? The National Assembly should not consider any of the Pesticide related bills presented by the FISS, department of the FMARD, as they lack transparency, accountability, openness, and zero public participation

“The bills are not in the interest of Nigerians. Both bills are clearly surrendering Nigeria’s food sector to foreign control. Hence, there is a need to investigate the promoters of the bill, as it can be traced to treason- insisting on exposing the control of Nigeria’s food sector to foreigners whose goal is to make a maximum profit”.

He further urged that the updated NAFDAC Registration Regulation should compel all applicants to register their products against any regulatory and policy changes so that NAFDAC can immediately enforce a ban on any product where scientific evidence has been presented to cause acute harm to humans and or the environment.

The Don observed that the Bill which has a 9-point justification for the proposed amendment of the existing fertiliser quality control act to incorporate agrochemicals appears to be a marketing bill aimed at quality control of fertilisers and agrochemicals

In his opening remarks, Lead Coordinator, AAPN/ Program Manager, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Donald Ikenna said “More than 90% of Nigerian farmers do not know the chemicals they apply on their farms and food-eating consumers do not know the chemical in their food”.

He further stated that most farmers do not read product labels and are unaware of the various hazards associated with the active ingredient pesticides as the health hazards are not disclosed in any way.

Ikenna further alleged that over 80% of farmers and their communities do not use personal protective equipment (PPEs), mainly because they are not sold in the many agrochemical stores or their distributors among other issues”.

Presenting a summary of their observations, Managing Partner, Richmatrix & CO, Oreoluwa Adeyemi while presenting an overview of sections of the NAFDAC Registration Regulations 2019 observed that while section 2(1) prohibits the use of importation of pesticides not registered in Nigeria, it provides that ” A pesticide shall not be manufactured, formulated, imported, exported, advertised, sold, distributed or used in Nigeria unless it has been registered in accordance with the provisions of the regulation”.

She further quoted sections 3(A) and (C, D) and urged that it be qualified and specific as to the maximum for experimentation purposes, while others be expunged from the exempted lists of pesticides that can be imported into Nigeria without registration.

Meanwhile describing importers of hazardous pesticides as merchants of death, Deputy Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje ascribed the promoters of hazardous products as merchants of death who chose profit over people’s lives.

Because they are actually selling death, people may not be dropping dead instantly, but they will die eventually because they are selling drugs that will affect the immune system, the livelihoods of people, and even the environment, because when we talk about food that is something that everyone is connected to.

She reiterated that it should be” people over profit”

The AAPN in their recommendations called on NAFDAC to prohibit against assignment or transfer of license without obtaining written approval from the agency, further urging them to add a section after section 8, to reflect the toxicity and class of products.

Other recommendations called on the agency to introduce toxicity colour codes on pesticides to help the low illiteracy levels of rural farmers and also recommended a separate section to address registration regulations as it seemed the guidelines were not clear on ‘conditions for the cancellation of registration

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