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Why ‘hazardous pesticides’ stir anger in Nigeria

Stakeholders in the health and agricultural sectors have continued to call for an end to the double standard that exists in the global trade in…

Stakeholders in the health and agricultural sectors have continued to call for an end to the double standard that exists in the global trade in pesticide-active ingredients and products.  

They particularly accused the European Union of double standards in the global trade of agrochemicals and the failure of the country’s regulatory agencies to live up to their responsibilities.

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There are pesticide products and active ingredients that are either banned or not approved in the EU due to health or environmental concerns but exported by agrochemical corporations and sold in other countries, including Nigeria. 

Recently, the Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria (AAPN), a coalition of over 40 civil society organisations, including the academia, independent scientists and media professionals, met and frowned at the way Nigerian authorities handle the matter. 

A communique signed by Donald Ikenna Ofoegbu, a co-coordinator of the AAPN and programme manager, HBS Nigeria, and Chris Kaka, co-coordinator, AAPN, programme manager, TNI Nigeria, on behalf 33 organisations, raised the alarm over the issue. 

“Highly Hazardous Pesticides and Pesticides (HHPs) that are banned or withdrawn in Europe are still registered and used by farmers in Nigeria. Sixty-five per cent of pesticides used by farmers in four states of Nigeria are categorised as HHPs, and 55 per cent are withdrawn from the European market as they show chronic human health effects (reprotoxic, neurotoxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or endocrine disruptive) or severe environmental effects (bee and fish toxicity, leaching potential, persistent),” the communiqué reads in part. 

They are also worried that the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had failed in its responsibility to protect the country’s food system.  

“NAFDAC’s list of banned pesticides is outdated and needs updating. Since 2008, Nigeria, through the agency, has only banned 30 pesticides.  

“The then director-general of the NAFDAC, Dr Dora Akunyili, placed a ban on 30 pesticides in 2008 after multiple food poisonings and deaths in Bekwarra Local Government Area of Cross River State.  

“On the website of the agency, only the same old 30 pesticides are listed. All other public notifications on banned pesticides seem not to be included in the list of banned pesticides, creating uncertainty about their actual status,” they noted in the statement.  

They also stated, “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) should work closely with the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) towards opening the draft and review process of the Integrated Pest Management Policy Plan (formally headed by NASQ) and ensure that civil society organisations, smallholder farmers, consumer groups, academia and organic practitioners are part of the process of developing the policy.”

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