Thursday, October 30, 2008

Throw Out the Pesticide Safety Baby With The Sea Water

The shipping accident in the Philippines does not have any specific pesticide at its core. That is why the logic of the action reported at the following link eludes me:

There are important lessons for the pesticide industry in this regrettable matter, as in all adverse events. Some competitors may rub their hands in glee at the new business prospects of yet another ill-advised pesticide ban. However, something similar or worse could happen tomorrow to the beneficiaries of today.

Shipping accidents have involved all manners of cargo, including polluting ones such as crude oil. That has not stopped any world trade in the affected commodities. Nevertheless, pro-active measures will be more productive than recrimination alone.

Many countries use pesticides made in other countries. Sea lanes are irreplaceable for world trade in pesticides. The pesticide industry can do more to equip shipping companies with all the information and material resources to deal with accidents that are part and parcel of the very business. 

Packaging development is another issue to consider. Pesticides transported over the high seas should be presented in ways that resist corrosion, pressure, and the other stresses of being submerged. The adverse incident in Philippine waters indicates that RFID can be used to improve safety in this dimension of a world pesticide business.

It remains to be said that pineapples in the Philippines will not benefit from the action proposed at the link I have provided above.

Genetic Engineering, Agronomy, and Pesticide Safety

Controversy over cotton with the B.t. gene persists. Some agronomists celebrate the suppression of lepidopteran pests, while others predict resurgence. A renewed thrust by hemipterans in the meantime cannot be denied. The neonicotinoid success story has been built largely on the changed pest dynamics of genetically engineered crops.

I was in the cotton-growing belt of Northern India recently. B.t. cotton helps with dermal exposure to pesticides, regardless of what it does to pests. B.t, cotton plants have just about half the vegetation of the improved varieties that farmers in Punjab and Haryana grew earlier. Moreover, the plant population per acre has been cut drastically. Here are sequential photographs of the two kinds of cotton near harvest:

I have realized from this example that breeders have important roles in pesticide safety. I invite your views. Please post below.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Typical Pesticide Safety Case

The countryside that borders the highway North from India's capital city is a prime agricultural zone. Punjab and Haryana are the granaries of one of the most populous nations on Earth. Farmers in this belt grow vegetables for the clusters of cities around, apart from vast quantities of cereals and oilseeds

The scene in the video below is common. Many key pesticide safety concepts are violated in this case

Please post your views below after viewing the video clip above. I would like to start a dialog on practical issues in pesticide safety.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Children and Pesticide Safety

Date: October 23, 2008
Time: Around dusk
Place: Chavda Farm House, Pinjupura, on road from Hissar to Narwana in Haryana, India
Tank mix: Nurelle of Dow and Novaluron of Indofil

The children strolled on to the field even as simultaneous spraying and harvesting were in progress. 

We need to do much more to protect children from pesticide abuse. Rural and urban children need separate sets of protective measures. Exposure is a major challenge for farm families. Residues beyond MRLs are unknown issues for children in cities. 

Extension services at points of purchase would be most effective under the present system of pesticide marketing. An alternative is to regulate and monitor all purchases, but the administrative commitment is probably lacking, going by the experience with prescription medicines in India.

Please post below or write to if you have suggestions to safeguard the futures of our children.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Pesticide Safety Guarantee from Farmers to City Folk

Farmers deserve special considerations. They are subject to the vagaries of nature. Fertile land is chronically under-valued. Output prices do not include the true costs of farm labor. Villages lack infrastructure that urban centers take for granted.

The PHI is an exception. Even if you buy organic produce in a city market, you have to do so on trust. The United States has elaborate measures to check farm produce for pesticide residues, but such provisions in most countries exist only in regulatory files.

Urban communities depend upon their rural peers for safe food supplies. The picture below is enacted every day around Indian towns and in our farms. All stakeholders lose out in the process. The person who sprays pesticides without protective gear faces grave risks of acute poisoning. Anyone who eats vegetables grown as in the picture is vulnerable to chronic and sub-acute toxicities.

It is time to use Community Supported Agriculture for all our vegetable supplies, fruits, and salad ingredients. Write to me or post below if you would like to launch a CSA project near your retail area.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pesticide Safety for the Skin

I discern a pattern throughout Haryana. Please check and let me know if you have similar experiences. The Dermatology Clinics have the longest queues of patients in rural hospitals. Here is a picture from Ambala in Haryana that I took yesterday.

I walked through the hospital several times. There were no matching crowds in any of the other Departments. I recall my visit to Badoli in Sonepat during August this year. Nearly all the farmers in our meeting had skin ailments. Here is a picture of the gathering:

There are two disturbing features of this vast problem. One is beyond my control. It relates to untreated effluent streams of industrial units in rural areas. Here is a picture from the highway that links Ambala with Chandigarh:

The stench from the drain is unbearable. Important politicians and officials drive past this disaster every day. 

There is another aspect of pollution that affects all pesticide professionals. We can make deep inroads against dermal toxicity through simple acts. Gloves and plastic outer clothing are effective ways of reducing dermal exposure. Pesticide containers are handled without gloves at retail points, during transport, and in storage as well. Here is evidence from Kalaiwal near Kaithal:

Sitaram has assured me that his brother and he will start using gloves and other protective gear. I have to arrange for delivery at the earliest. 

Please resolve to prevent dermal toxicity. Human lives are in your hands.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Biologicals Should Replace Chemical Pesticides at Harvest for Safety

The familiar smell of hydrocarbons awoke me from slumber. I am glad that happened because dozing in the front seat is always unsafe. It had been a long day, and my friendly host Shri Hublikar had given me a delicious lunch. The back seat was full of safety gear so there was no choice but to sit next to Shri Vikas the driver.

It was nearly dusk on October 23rd 2008. We were near Kalaiwat on the road from Sirsa to Narwana in Haryana. The Chawda Farm House is managed by immigrant labor from Panipat. Sitaram, son of Rajendra Singh was spraying an irrational tank mix of pesticides. He had chosen Nurelle of Dow Agro, which contains the deadly combination of Chloropyriphos and Cypermethrin. He then added Novaluron of Indofil, unaware that he was simply wasting money in the bargain.

There was worse to follow. Sitaram's brother was spraying without protective gear. His calves were drenched in the toxic brew. He was unaware of safe pesticide application principles, but gratefully accepted my offer of plastic clothing on subsidy. I will arrange for this in due course, as all the kits I had were used at Ambala just a few days earlier.

Sitaram's wife and father were harvesting even as the spray was in progress. His children were playing in the field as well. I asked them to leave, though this did not please the family too much. Here is one photographic record of the shocking scene: 

I have more pictures and a video as well. I deeply regret the lack of professional commitment of all pesticide professionals, including myself, who allow such threats to our communities.

I will write a series of posts on this matter. Please help me ameliorate this enormous risk to our collective national wellness. I ask for a first step today. Please let us keep biologicals in our product ranges, and do all we can to respect pre-harvest intervals. I have to say that the field in the picture above was heavily damaged by leaf-eating and sucking pests. It was ideal for Endogram and Endosulfan-tolerant Chrysoperla. We all lose if organophosphates and pyrethroids are used within just minutes of harvest. 

Who is responsible for the children who eat the cauliflowers from the field photographed above?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Infrastructure for Pesticide Safety

All countries that I have visited have more facilities for making and selling pesticides than for their safe and judicious use. Stewardship is generally relegated to the side-lines if it exists at all. All stakeholders lose in this business model. 

What a difference infrastructure can make to pesticide safety. This is my cardinal impression from my on-going work in village Tepla of Ambala district of Haryana in India. It is a wonderful experience to work with a committed team. Meeting the same set of farmers, technologists, administrators, and medical personnel, enables one to make tangible and rapid progress in terms of pesticide safety. Here is a picture of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Agriculture Science Center) at Tepla:

I visit Tepla every month, and hope to establish weekly multi-media contacts on the Internet soon. We have already improved capabilities to deal with acute toxicity, and will work on chronic aspects in due course. 

Please visit Tepla when you can, and audit the pesticide safety steps in motion there. I would welcome your critical comments for improvement. I am glad to say that my efforts to establish similar infrastructure in other parts of Haryana, in Punjab, and in Andhra Pradesh are all racing ahead with delightful speed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pesticide Safety Has Me Over The Moon

India celebrates a mission to the Moon today. I am an Indian with another reason to rejoice. Doctors Ruchi Aggarwal, Satish Kumar, and Yashpal, pictured below, have joined the Pesticide Safety Network of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Ambala in Haryana

This is a major step towards providing the communities of spray operators and small farmers with meaningful and affordable ways of achieving top standards of pesticide safety. Chronic toxicity, safe use practices, and insurance for hospital expenses are integrated with the professional medical services for the area surrounding the Krishi Vigyan Kendra. It is a model that can be replicated wherever pesticides are used.

The full proceedings of October 21 2008 during which the pesticide safety network has been launched are available at the following link:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Should Pesticide Safety Have Spatial Limits?

"No, we cannot allow you to work in Kerala".

This is an actual statement I encountered yesterday. I met with a functionary from a key pesticide industry player. My objective was to extend my pesticide safety project to the Indian State that has borne the brunt of pesticide hazards. 

It started with ethyl parathion more than five decades ago. A consignment was transported with rice leading to human deaths. Leptophos also ran in to fatal trouble in this State. A needless controversy over aerial spraying continues.

Kerala needs pesticide safety just like any other area. This is a prime place to promote the safe and judicious use of pesticides. I regret that an influential industry-member does not wish to engage in pesticide safety as a core activity of its organization.

Please post below or write to if you know of an entity that is willing to support a pesticide safety program in Kerala.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Database Approach to Chronic Aspects of Pesticide Safety

"I feel insulted when you ask me to take a cancer check-up".

This is an authentic statement by a pesticide industry professional. It is common for people to avoid medical help until they feel unwell. This could also be why acute poisoning from pesticides receives more attention than chronic toxicology.

Pesticide spray operators, like the person pictured below, are the worst victims of neglecting the chronic aspects of pesticide safety.

This person could not spare time to listen to pesticide safety advice when I met him last. I hope to meet him again on November 24th 2008. There could be unknown numbers of people like him who spray pesticides everyday. Perhaps they ignore some important pesticide safety precautions. The additive effects endanger their health, though they are sanguine about acute toxicity.

We know from the processes adopted by reputed pesticide manufacturing units that regular and recorded medical appraisals are essential for all people who come in regular contacts with such chemicals. That is why I would like to copy pesticide-factory safety practices for spray operators. Please post below or write to me at if you would like to launch such a program. Tele-medicine allows us to work together across any physical boundaries. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Networking for Pesticide Safety

A pesticide label is easy to read. Preventing deaths in poisoning cases is another matter. The medical management of pesticide poisoning calls for a calm minds, clear algorithms of treatment, readily-available antidotes, and reference facilities. Published clinical records are rare though plenty of cases surface during spraying seasons.

The Internet facilitates better pesticide safety. We can use the World Wide Web to tackle both acute and chronic pesticide dangers. The coming week is important to me as I will commence a pesticide safety network in Ambala, Haryana. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra will help me bring doctors and spray operators on a common platform for improved pesticide safety.

I would like to work with you, wherever you may be located, for pesticide safety. We can use the Internet for regular and emergency communications, and meet face-to-face on occasion as well. Please post below or write to if you would like to join a pesticide safety network. I am willing to join your networks as well, provided that they relate to pesticide safety.

Let us work together to promote the safe and judicious use of pesticides.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No Pesticide Safety in a Tank Mix

Regulation of combination pesticides is a grave task. There was a time when combinations of pesticides were banned in India. The pesticide industry has managed a few registrations under the new dispensation, but they remain largely restricted. Acute toxicity is a severe hazard with any combination pesticide. This potentially fatal risk is accentuated by the modern trend of marketing pesticides without known antidotes. Moreover, antidotes and treatment measures are specific to chemical groups, and may be contra-indicated for pesticide combination partners. Combinations of pesticides with hydrocarbons complicate the medical task of lavage in poisoning emergencies. The pesticide industry and land-lords may love combination products, but they are crippling burdens for landless laborers who are forced to spray such products to earn their livings. I have sold combination-pesticides at the start of my career, but am now in favor of rotational spray schedules with single ingredients.

A tank-mix in the field is far worse than a pesticide that the industry has persuaded regulators to register. Brand owners will employ safeguards to use compatible solvents and emulsifiers and reduce obvious phyto-toxicity. Medical toxicologists have to apply their minds to the management of poisoning cases before they approve labels of such pesticide combination products. Nothing of the sort happens when a large farmers orders his laborers to make and use untested combinations of pesticides.

I have a pesticide safety project in Northern India. This takes me to growing fields in the area every month. The over-riding impression I have is of the ubiquitous use of unregistered products and of illegal combinations. I challenge you. Drive in to any high pesticide-use area in India, and you will find tank-mixes to be awfully common. How should doctors manage poisoning cases involving tank-mixes of pesticides? This will be my focus area as I tour North India next week.

Please raise your voice against the illicit practice of tank-mixes of pesticides. Ask sellers to desist from encouraging such abuses of pesticides. Request farmers to desist from this pernicious practice. Ask regulators to be vigilant and resolute in stopping pesticide abuse. Together, we can make pesticide safety a reality. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pesticide Safety is Good for Business

Should the pesticide industry worry about PHI defaults? Does it make business sense to restrict sales in order to control abuse of pesticides? Perhaps you have some answers ready in your mind if you work in the pesticide industry. However, please read the information at the following link and see if you change your opinion:

Japan ranks at the very top of stiff pesticide regulation. It is entirely possible that farm produce in other countries also reaches retail shelves with pesticide residues above MRLs. This is why organic produce has gained such currency though science shows that food full of microbes may not be safe for ingestion.

The pesticide industry will grow faster and in more stable manner if safe and judicious use is promoted actively. Do you have success stories with respect to PHIs and re-entry period compliance? I would love to hear from you. Please resolve that you will not allow PHI violations in your jurisdiction, from now onwards. That should get the New Year off to a winning start.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Are You An Obstacle to Pesticide Safety?

Biopesticides are vital resources for agriculture. Pest management cannot be sustainable without these natural resources. Biopesticides are also useful for the stewardship of chemical pesticides. Endocel is not the same without the support of Endogram. The same concept applies to Endosulfan-tolerant Chrysoperla.Endosulfan is not the only pesticide with tolerant strains of biopesticides. The principle can apply to any chemical pesticide. Post below or write to if you would like to develop biopesticides to enhance the values presented by your chemical brands, or if you would like to re-launch monocrotophos.

Biopesticides are not only for support to chemical products. They can stand alone just as well. The conservation of pollinators is a key example.Endogram andEndosulfan-tolerantChrysoperla are crucial components in the battle against Colony Collapse Disorder. Europe has displayed alacrity in banning neonicotinoids, but the following link indicates that not enough has been done forbiopesticides:

Biopesticides can resolve the contentious issue of harmful residues in farm produce. The pesticide industry can promote biopesticides for exclusive use near harvest. Chemical pesticides will last longer if we ensure that PHIs are not violated.

Do you have biopesticidesin your product range? PutEndogramEndosulfan-tolerant Chrysoperla, and similar agents to work for the stewardship of your business. Start today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Tribute to a Pesticide Safety Champion

I deeply mourn the passing-away of Heinz Imhof. He was a pioneer of the world pesticide industry. Stewardship as a function flourished when he was at the helm of affairs. His memories are indelible in my mind. I am glad that I remain active in pesticide safety, because it is a vital way of honoring Heinz Imhof

Rest in peace, Sir.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Use, Abuse, and Pesticide Safety

Does the pesticide industry take stewardship seriously? The material at the following link seems to suggest otherwise:

Dated communication strategies are not adequate for the global world of today. We cannot ignore unintended effects of our pesticide products. Who will protect pesticide brands if the industry looks the other way?

Colony Collapse Disorder is a case in point. The pesticide industry has not done enough to halt the unexplained deaths of honeybees. Pollination is integral to farm production and to environmental conservation as well. Pesticides will suffer if there is no comprehensive approach to this burning problem. Europe has reacted with bans and litigation against neonicotinoids. There are similar moves in the United States as well. It is time for BRIC countries to take positions on the matter.

The EndogramEndocel, and Endosulfan-tolerant Chrysoperla triad is my answer to the vexed matter of pollination failures. I am open to other approaches as well. Please post below or write to if you would like to try the system on a farm or if you have other suggestions to combat pollination failures and declines of pollinators.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Consumer Perspective of Pesticide Safety

Consumer power is not to be denied. The pesticide industry does not have direct and regular contacts with urban consumers. That is why vast chasms develop between the opinions of pesticide professionals and ordinary citizens. Take neonicotinoids as a case in point. This groups of novel pesticides represents a major safety advance. The pesticide industry has been pro-active in the matter. Some manufacturers have even gone to the extent of voluntarily withdrawing their own pesticide registrations to pave the path for patented neonictinoids. Others have invested enormous resources to motivate activists to ask for generic products to be banned. Has this helped them? Read the opinion at the following link: 

The pesticide industry cannot remain a passive observer in the world opinion development about their products. Consumers should join growers, sellers, and regulators as a prime customer genre. Urban communities and owners of all agri enterprises should be engaged in regular dialog. There is also a need to review some agronomic conventions, and to withdraw strategic pesticides from situations in which they are likely to be abused. The flowering stages of crops are most important in this regard. Pesticides have to be used so that pollination and bio-diversity are not affected. Biological agents should have precedence at this vital IPM stage.

I suggest reservation of neonicotinoids for seed dressing. Activists need to be informed that neonicotinoid residues will fall below harmful levels before the reproductive stages of treated crops. I propose that Endogram Endocel and Endosulfan-tolerant Chrysoperla are used during flowering to manage pests, and to conserve honeybees at the same time.

I await your views.

A New Pesticide Safety Dimension

Acute toxicity is dramatic, and hence it gets most pesticide safety attention. Sub-acute and chronic effects of pesticides are controversial matters, and no point of view can be established beyond doubt. The study reported at the following link is a case in point:
Pesticide toxicology is nearly always studied in animal models. Real effects in humans are generally not studied. Indirect inferences may be drawn as in the report cited above, but the conclusions are open to debate. Psychiatric conditions cannot be studied in animals in any case.
Human safety deserves better. How can we protect pesticide spray operators from open-ended doubts about possible health effects? Responsible pesticide manufacturing units do this through systems of annual medical examinations coupled with comprehensive health-records. This is an appropriate model for pesticide spray operators. I have developed one and hope to launch it later this month. Post below or write to me at if you would like to operate a health surveillance system for pesticide spray operators in your area.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Efficacy and Pesticide Safety Link

There are many theories as to why biological pesticides have not been successful. I believe that it is a matter of professional and dedicated transfer of technology. Consider the disturbing news at the following link:


I am not aware whether the biological pesticides used in this case were of inferior quality. Perhaps colony releases were not on time. Another factor to consider is whether the farmers wanted knock-down action, though what they choose to use were repellants.


Biological pesticides have to be used in a system format. The Endogram-Endocel-Endosulfan tolerant Chrysoperla is my triad of choice. I am confident of protecting crops from insect attacks using this approach. A bonus is that honeybees and other pollinators can go about their tasks.


Post below or write to me at if you would like to try the  Endogram-Endocel-Endosulfan tolerant Chrysoperla system.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pesticide Safety Beats Organic

MRLs hold a key to pesticide safety. The pesticide industry stands to make major gains if we can stop abuses of our products. The conventional position that a manufacturer's responsibility ends with meeting regulations, deserves a fresh look. The pesticide industry needs a pro-active mechanism to ensure that products are used safely and judiciously. We have to assure consumers that farm produce on retail shelves does not contain harmful pesticide residues. This will put crops grown under modern agronomy conditions a step ahead of organic produce.

These are my impressions from the slide-show at the following link:

I welcome your views on this matter.

Honest Labeling for Pesticide Safety

A pesticide label is special. You need not read everything printed on soap wrappers, but pesticide safety depends on reading everything on a label. That is why pesticide labels in India have to be in regional languages. The best companies use pictograms as well.

Every labeling defect deserves censure. That is why I support the regulatory action reported at the following link:

Pesticide label integrity is a cross-functional business process. You cannot have the purchase and production guys acting in isolation. This is why Stewardship is such a top management function for the pesticide industry.

Are your labels in order? Do farmers violate your PHIs? What about emergency procedures? Do transporters and warehouse owners known action sequences when adverse events occur? Are your antidotes available wherever you distribute and sell? Do local doctors know how to save lives from poisoning incidents? Have you any data on chronic exposure effects? I can add to this barrage of questions. You may evade answers today, but it could be at the cost of your business.

Strengthen your Stewardship function for pesticide safety and yours as well.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Must for Pesticide Safety

There used to be a time when skin cancer was a concern of white Caucasians in temperate climes. Pesticides have changed all that. Everyone who applies pesticides without protective gear is at risk of skin cancer if an NOEL is exceeded. Please bookmark the following link and become familiar with its contents:

Dermatology is a specialized vocation. It is not possible for lay people to determine the nature and seriousness of a skin condition. That is why everyone who handles pesticides needs an annual medical examination.

Please post below or write to me at if you need help to arrange medical examination for agricultural labor and farmers to spray pesticides.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Seize the Pesticide Safety Initiative

I continue with my take-aways from my meeting with Pujya Kaka on October 03, 2008.

His words were not clear to me, but I did not dare to ask for a clarification. He said something about training villagers to act like business executives. I caught the phrase 'take initiative'. There had to be a reason for him to make this remark. It followed his query on whether my project had progressed in Koday.

I thought that a Shroff web site should make things clearer, and I was right. The revelation came from the following link:

I have watched Shrutiben's work for some years, albeit from a distance. She makes a big impact with minimum fuss. She works miracles with scarce resources. She does not bother with meetings, but takes decisive steps all the time. I have experienced this at first hand during the Orissa cyclone towards the end of the last century.

My pesticide safety work has suffered until now because I keep waiting for decisions from others. I will change this from today, after the holy occasion of Durga Ashtami merging in to Navami. Sandhi Puja will be over after midnight, and I will seize the initiative from tomorrow.

Thank you Pujya Kaka and Shrutiben.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Spiritual Basis for My Pesticide Safety Campaign

The meeting was not in the best of circumstances. A sudden illness in the family was responsible for the Darshan. Nevertheless, it was inspiring as always.

Pujya Kaka quoted Sri Aurobindo on the subject of India's freedom. 

"Every organization must have its spiritual basis in place". 

I have paraphrased as I did not record the conversation, much as I would have liked to do. The key learning for me has been that spirituality should lie at the roots of every enduring human endeavor. It is an appropriate reminder during the current season of Goddess worship. The triumph must be of good and not of evil.

This encounter with Pujya Kaka will serve to take my pesticide safety campaign forward. Spirituality was not the only gem I gathered during the rare audience. I will post tomorrow about the rest of my memories of meeting Pujya Kaka on October 03rd 2008.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pesticides and Honeybee Crisis in Canada

Canada has joined the growing list of countries with honeybee crises. See:

It is unlikely that mites or a virus are responsible for trans-oceanic spreads of Colony Collapse Disorder. The practice of using systemic pesticides during flowering is a more probable reason. 

It is possible that many countries are under threats of losing their honeybees, though their regulators have not recognized it as yet. There is not a day to lose in conserving this vital resource. Drastic farm production losses await nations that neglect their honeybees.

The Endogram-Endocel and Endosulfan tolerant Chrysoperla triad is an assertive way of protecting crops at flowering and honeybees at the same time. Rabi crops will be sown in India during the next 60 days. This is a crucial time to plan for the proper pollination of oilseeds and fruit trees. 

I hope India will not join the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, and Canada in recrimination over avoidable loss of honeybees. 

Please add your voice and influence to conserve Indian honeybees. Support the Endogram-Endocel and Endosulfan tolerant Chrysoperla  system for IPM at flowering.