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Government Limits Use of Herbicide Glyphosate Due to Safety Concerns

Glyphosate has primarily been used in India to control herbicides in tea plantations. The chemical is also used in non-crop areas to control unwanted growth.

Shivam Dwivedi
Glyphosate has even been found in crops like chana, where farmers use it to desiccate the produce.
Glyphosate has even been found in crops like chana, where farmers use it to desiccate the produce.

Fearing risks to human and animal health, the Centre officially restricted the use of glyphosate herbicide. From now onwards, Glyphosate will now only be applied through pest control operators (PCOs). 

The PCOs are authorized to use lethal chemicals to treat pests such as rodents. More than two years after a draught of the restriction was circulated for comments and views, a formal gazette notification was issued last night. Though the official order did not state it explicitly, many experts believe it is intended to limit farmers' use of glyphosate.

Glyphosate has primarily been used to control herbicides in tea plantations in India. The chemical is also used to control unwanted growth in non-crop areas. These include areas adjacent to irrigation channels, railway sidings, fallow land, bunds, farm borders, parks, industrial and military facilities, airports, power plants, and so on.

According to activists, glyphosate has been found in crops such as chana, where farmers use it to desiccate the produce. The use of glyphosate increased dramatically after Ht BT cotton was illegally grown in India.

To carry out the order, all certificates of registration for the chemical that companies must obtain in order to manufacture or sell it must now be returned to the registration committee.

The order states that if a company fails to return the registration certificates within three months, the Insecticides Act of 1968 will be invoked.

Some states have already banned glyphosate. Glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans," according to a 2015 study published by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

"The main concern now is that there is no pest control operator system available in the cultivation area, and this order will inevitably cause chaos on the ground. Second, the involvement of PCO would incur significant additional costs, so this is not a farmer-centric step," said Kalyan Goswami, director general of the Agro-Chemicals Federation of India (ACFI).

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