State team to look into pesticides, food safety

Posted on September, 12, 2019 at 11:03 am

By AGATHA NGOTHO Science Writer - The Star

Many farmers are misusing pesticides and the ministries of Health and Agriculture have formed a team to look into wide issues of food safety.

Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur said the team formed last month will have its first meeting next week.

“Food safety includes use of pesticides in agriculture, seeds, food transportation and handling," he said.

The government has a responsibility to ensure that farmers use chemicals that are safe because this everyone, he said. "Those sprayed vegetables may end up in hotels, markets and supermarkets,” he told the Star on Monday.

Tuimur said farmers have been using more concentrations than recommended or not observing the withdrawal periods after pesticide use.

In 2018-2019, approximately 14 million kilos of pesticides valued at Sh11.9 billion were imported.

The CAS said government regulatory agencies including the Pest Control Products Board, Pharmacy and Poisons Board and the Agrochemical Society of Kenya should work together to ensure farmers use pesticides that are registered, tested and are known to be safe.

He urged farmers to use natural pesticides that are safe and do not have bad effects on end-users.

According to a report by the Route For Food Initiative, a lobby group on the right to food, Kenya does not have data on the use of pesticides or their concentration in water, soil, food and their impacts.

“Most of the research focuses on the persistent organic pollutants such as DDT, lindane and endosulfan which are rarely used anymore. Epidemiological health studies related to pesticide exposure in Kenya do not exist. This means it is not definitely known if we are facing an impact of pesticides on the environment and health,” the report read.

Peter Opiyo, the Pest Control Products Board CEO, said prior to the introduction of any pest control product, data on its quality and safety must be provided.

Data should include the purity and impurity profile, chemistry, toxicology, effects on the environment and beneficial orgasms. The toxicology and residue data is used in setting the maximum residue limits defining the highest level of a pesticide residue that is legally tolerated in or on food,” Opiyo said.

During an interview with the Star on 26 August, Opiyo said that pesticides are often reviewed by about eight different regulatory bodies in Kenya before they are licensed for use.

"Pesticide labels for products which were registered earlier with general uses such as ‘for use on vegetables’ or ‘for use on horticultural crops’ have continuously been revised in order to prevent exceeding set maximum residue levels," he said.

Source: The Star