Bans on toxic pesticides in Kerala have no adverse effect on crop production

New research from the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention has found that bans on toxic pesticides in the State of Kerala, India, have had no adverse impact on agriculture and food production. 

Highly hazardous pesticides pose a major threat to human health.  Every 3 minutes someone dies from pesticide ingestion, making it one of the most common methods of suicide worldwide.  

Pesticide suicide is a particular problem in agricultural communities in South and East Asia. Farmers and residents have easy access to highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) which are sold locally and stored in their homes. 

The most effective way to prevent deaths is to introduce bans on lethal pesticides. However, many farmers fear that the removal of highly hazardous pesticides will have an adverse effect on their crop yield and income. 

This new study examined the impact of bans on 14 highly hazardous pesticides, implemented by the state of Kerala, India, in 2011. It explored whether these bans had any effect on agriculture. 

Researchers collected data on agricultural production for eight key crops which had been treated with the banned pesticides. These were examined alongside information on rainfall, changes in land use and agricultural policies. 

The study found no evidence that the Keralan bans had any negative effect on agricultural yield and food production. 

Professor Michael Eddleston, Director of the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention, said:

“This is one of the most significant studies we have conducted on the impact of HHP bans on agriculture. The findings are important as they add to existing evidence that lethal pesticides can be removed without affecting crop yield.

These progressive measures taken by Kerala and other regional and national governments will help prevent many deaths from pesticide poisoning.”

By removing all acutely toxic HHPs from agricultural practice, it is estimated that global pesticide suicide rates will rapidly fall from 150,000 deaths a year to less than 50,000. 

The research is published in Agriculture & Food Security.