The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking a ban on all pesticides that have been prohibited by other countries. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to Centre and the Ministries of Chemicals and Fertilisers and Agriculture on the plea, which has also sought banning of advertisements and unacceptable practises of marketing and promoting such pesticides.
The petition, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, also sought a direction to set up an expert committee of individuals with unimpeachable integrity to examine the issue of phasing out all chemical pesticides in a time-bound manner.
The plea sought to promote organic farming and providing farmers with the necessary knowledge and assistance to be given by the central and state governments for the period of time it would take for their farms to be converted to organic farms.
“Issue a direction to make it mandatory to follow the precautionary principle before registering any pesticide for use or manufacture,” the plea said.
The petition was filed by three persons –Kavitha Kurunganti, national convener of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), Dr Amar Singh Azad, former Chief Medical Officer in Punjab and V R Ananthasayanan, an activist on sustainable agriculture.
It has alleged that at least 93 pesticides used in India have been banned by other countries and an additional 6 more are used in India that have been withdrawn or restricted by other nations.
It also referred to a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report which said that nearly three lakh farmers have committed suicide in the past two decades, averaging more than 46 farmer suicides every day, and said scientific studies have linked pesticide use by farmers to depression and suicidal tendencies.
“Numerous scientific papers and studies have shown pesticide exposure has increased the risk of several disease like various forms of cancer, DNA damage, damage to the brain and nervous system, Parkinsons disease, birth defects, immunological changes and adverse effects on the physical and mental development of children, in farmers and farmworkers and their families in many states of India,” the plea said.