Friday, July 22, 2011

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Pesticides posers

  • Friday, July 22, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • Agrochemical importers yesterday said they are anxious to know whether the country needs pesticides or not in the wake of Sri Lanka Customs holding back their pesticide imports in 13 containers for alleged presence of arsenic in them from last month.

    The chairman of Crop Life Sri Lanka, one of the six regional organizations in Asia for Crop Life International, Rohitha Nanayakkara yesterday told the Daily News the agrochemicals concerned have been held at Customs for nearly two months.

    "They were imported under licence in accordance with the guidelines of the Registrar of Pesticides," Nanayakkara pointed out. There is no arsenic in the active ingredients of imported pesticides, he assured

    Meanwhile, pesticide companies yesterday blamed Customs Officers for holding up their pesticides over recent statements made by scientists at Rajarata University and Kelaniya University about arsenic in pesticides used in Sri Lanka.

    This statement has not been established as the "truth" yet. Besides, it has been challenged by many research groups in other universities and also by agricultural experts, they pointed out.

    "We do not know for sure what really holds back the Customs when the products are permitted , cleared, approved and granted permission to be marketed in Sri Lanka," said Nanayakkara.

    He said, the holding up of pesticides can have a negative impact on cultivation in the forthcoming Maha season.

    Meanwhile, Customs officials said they sent the samples of pesticide to the Industrial Technology Institute and the Kelaniya University for necessary scientific tests for arsenic on Wednesday.

    Asked why they took weeks to send the samples, an official said there were conflicts of interest among the scientists about their testing methods for arsenic and other hazardous substances.

    "Finally we decided to hand over the samples to ITI and the Kelaniya University," he said.

    Crop Life representatives said , " one thing was clear that the Customs Department has sent the samples to those research teams that are said to have found arsenic in locally used pesticides."

    A Customs official said, it will be the responsibility of everyone , and Registrar of Pesticides in particular to conduct proper tests on agrochemicals as it is by way of such tests that makes it possible to eliminate serious health hazards that can manifest from hazardous chemicals,such as arsenic.

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