Report highlights dangers of pesticides on humans, animals


Gordon Lusi sprays pesticide on a farm planted with soya beans at Ahero on September 13, 2016. Pesticides can cause numerous neurological health effects. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Pesticide poisoning causes more deaths than infectious diseases in developing countries.

Dr Hilal Elver, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (UNSR), says in the report that pesticide poisoning is a serious concern — especially in the Third World, where it kills more than 200,000 people every year even though the nations account for only 25 per cent of their usage.

She said 99 per cent of pesticide poisoning deaths occur in developing countries where health, safety and environmental regulations are weaker and less strictly applied.

“Hazardous pesticides impose substantial costs on governments and have catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole,” said Dr Elver.

Although there is no data on the number of deaths caused by pesticides in Kenya, the use of pesticides by farmers poses danger to them.

Research by Hindawi, in its BioMed Research International journal in 2015, revealed that incidences of pesticide-related health impairments have increased.

Through the Pest Control Products Board, Kenya banned 31 pesticides between 1986 and 2011 with a commitment to ensure access to safe, quality and efficacious pest control products for animal, plant and human health while safeguarding their health and environmental protection.

A pesticide is defined as any substance or mixture of substances of chemical and biological ingredients intended to repel, destroy or control any pest or regulate plant growth.

The report also reveals that chemical pesticides have been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.

They can also cause numerous neurological health effects such as memory loss, loss of coordination and reduced visual ability and motor skills. Others include asthma, allergies and hypersensitivity.

Pesticide Action Network, a non-profit organisation, recently estimated that a million to 41 million people are affected annually by short and long-term pesticide exposure with children most vulnerable as their organs are still developing and owing to their smaller size.

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