Monday, November 3, 2008

Consensus for Pesticide Safety in the EU

English-speaking farmers seem to have an advantage. They can participate meaningfully in regulations that affect their sources of income. It would be rare to find a web site from an emerging economy similar to the following one:

The interests of farmers are most prominent in negotiations about world trade. Politicians from countries with large agrarian populations are careful not to concede any quarter to forces that compete with their constituencies. Here is a link to the subject:

We have a contrary position with respect to pesticide safety. Farmers from the third world have nearly no say in deciding on matters of pesticide regulation. Much of this, until now, has been due to language and literacy barriers. Multi-media Internet on broad-band connections offer new possibilities to make the voices of farmers heard.

Pesticide safety standards can improve best through the active participation of farmers and spray operators. We can devise more practical safeguards against harmful exposure. Such an approach will also reduce gaps between regulations on paper and common practices in fields.

You can use a web site such as the one below to record the pesticide safety views of farmers who are not fluent in English:

You can contribute your interviews with farmers to my web site, or I can help you establish your own place for audio files on the Internet. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Key Pesticide Safety Assurance

Food safety is a unifying and universal aim. The pesticide industry, regulators, and activists who work to ban pesticides, can all come together on a platform of food safety. No stakeholder of the world pesticide business wants children and other consumers to consume food with harmful pesticide residues.

I see this as a useful business opportunity for the pesticide industry. Can we do more to ensure that farm produce is safe for human consumption?All manufacturers have the infrastructure to test crop samples for residues of their products. Extension networks that promote and sell pesticide brands can be used to make pre harvest intervals a reality.

All food on retail shelves that is guaranteed against harmful pesticide residues is bound to enjoy high demand. It can also be a route to spatial differentiation. Here is a link which attempts such branding:

It is time to make new definitions for every business of pesticides. Let us sell solutions rather than physical brands alone. Fresh fruits and vegetables are great places to start.

A Pesticide Safety Response to the EU Regulatory Challenge

New EU regulations for pesticides have sparked much controversy. There is a large body of opinion that the proposals will render European agriculture nearly impossible. Here is one link to support such a view:

I am nonplussed by the rejection of risk assessment as a guide for the approval of pesticide molecules. How can we manage pests if intrinsic CMR is held against established pesticides?

The die is nearly cast. EU Ministers will vote on the proposed new rules in less than a week from today. Can China and India do more than merely watch from the side-lines? I believe that a pro-active pesticide safety response is appropriate. Here is a list of elements that can meet public concerns about pesticides:

1. Bundling of protective gear with pesticide packs to make safe use a practical norm.
2. Investment in provisions for skilled manpower for safe pesticide application.
3. Benchmarking with cellular telecommunications and Internet banking to build online databases of safe pesticide use.
4. Remediation systems that address collateral and off-target pesticide effects. 
5. Assurances for urban consumers with respect to food safety from dangerous pesticide residues.

These five steps imply a new template for the way in which a pesticide business is conducted. It is a hard bullet to bite, but it is better than threats to ban large swathes of pesticides on which we depend for food security, public health, and our livelihoods.

Stewardship is an easy route to making the new world of pesticide safety a reality. This function has to be invited to the vanguard of the world business. It requires top-management commitment. Use it as a life-raft, rather than view it as an impediment.

I invite your comments. Please post below. It is not essential to disclose your identity.