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Delhi HC stays govt order limiting use of herbicide glyphosate for 3 months

Directs Centre to review decision with all stakeholders in the interim and come out with a solution

Delhi High Court | indian government | Agriculture

Sanjeeb Mukherjee  |  New Delhi 

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Glyphosate has been largely used in tea plantations in India to control vegetative pests

The has stayed a Central government notification ‘restricting’ the use of controversial plant chemical glyphosate only through operators (PCOs) for three months, trade and industry sources said today.

In its order, the court also directed the Centre to review the decision with all stakeholders in the interim and come out with a solution, during which time the notification ‘restricting’ the use of glyphosate will remain non-operational.

Last month, the Central government had formally restricted the use of the controversial but widely-used herbicide, fearing health hazards and risks to human beings and animals.

Glyphosate was henceforth allowed to be applied only through PCOs, who are licensed to use deadly chemicals for treating rodents and other pests.

A formal gazette notification on the restriction was issued more than two years after a draft was circulated for comments and views.

Though the official order did not mention it explicitly, many experts believe that it was intended to curb the rampant spread of glyphosate among farmers.

Glyphosate has been largely used in tea plantations in India to control vegetative pests. The chemical is also used on non-crop areas to control unwanted growth.

It has been applied alongside irrigation channels, railway sidings, fallow land, bunds, farm borders, parks, industrial and military premises, airports, and power stations, among other places.

While it is mainly used in tea plantations, activists said traces of glyphosate have even been found in crops such as chana, where farmers are using it to desiccate the produce.

Desiccation is a process in which plant chemicals are applied on crops just before the harvest to kill the leaves so that the produce dries up quickly and evenly and can be harvested sooner.

Glyphosate usage rose manifold once Ht BT cotton started getting cultivated illegally in India.

To implement the order, all certificates of registration for the chemical that companies have to get for manufacturing or sale have to be returned to the registration committee.

This is to enable them to incorporate the words, ‘The use of glyphosate formulation to be allowed through operators only,’ on all labels and leaflets where the chemical is used.

The order says failure on the part of any company to return the registration certificates within three months would invite appropriate action against it under the Insecticides Act of 1968.

Prior to the Central government, a few big states had banned glyphosate during the past few years.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 published a study that found glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans’.

Meanwhile, welcoming the HC stay, Kalyan Goswami, Director General, Agro Chem Federation of India said that this was definitely a favourable and logical outcome.

“The fraternity was worried about the availability of glyphosate during the cultivation period. We strongly wish that the notification will be withdrawn eventually,” Goswami said.

Parikshit Mundhra, chairman of the same Federation, said that as earlier, the industry is ready to provide all the scientific details, supportive documents to the government for a logical and fair decision, looking at the reality and the need for better cultivation.

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First Published: Wed, November 23 2022. 14:32 IST