SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
 
  21 January 2011
Volume 12 Issue 1
 

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Minimizing Off-site Impacts of Pesticides: A Risk Based Approach

SETAC Asia-Pacific Workshop, New Delhi, India

Rai Kookana

A workshop on the topic of “Minimizing Off-site Impacts of Pesticides: A Risk Based Approach,” was jointly organized by SETAC Asia/Pacific; The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and The Society of Pesticide Science (SPS) India and held on 26 November 2010 at India Habitat Center, New Delhi.

India Workshop GroupThis workshop was held recognizing the fact that agriculture remains a dominant component of the global economy (especially India’s) and the economic, social, environmental and public health implications due to decreasing water quality remains a worldwide threat. Pesticides can have adverse non-target effects especially in water quality, ecosystems and human health. In India, pesticide and fertilizer contaminants are well recognized as causing water pollution problems.  In recent years, monitoring in India has revealed unacceptable levels of pesticide residues in river water, sediment, groundwater, milk and various food commodities. The intent of the workshop was to bring together Indian and international expertise (through SETAC) as well as tools, approaches and experiences to improve farm management of pesticides and minimize their off-site impact on the ecosystem and human health.

The goals of the workshop were:

  • To share expert knowledge (from India and abroad via SETAC) on a risk-based approach to minimize impact of pesticides on ecosystem health.
  • To demonstrate the application of risk indicator and eco-literacy tools (e.g. Pesticide Impact Rating Index or PIRI) for making more informed choices and decisions.
  • To discuss opportunities for international collaboration leading to better management of pesticides to minimize impact on non-target organisms.

Forty-three delegates representing industry, resource managers, regulators, researchers, academia, government, NGOs, PhD scholars and prominent pesticide experts India workshop talk(from India and abroad) participated in the workshop. Some participants travelled long distances, from as far as Assam and Tamil Nadu.

The workshop was opened by Dr. C.D. Mayee, Chairman, Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, ICAR, New Delhi, India, who called for judicious use of pesticides through greater awareness about pesticides among farmers and community (http://www.icar.org.in/en/node/2281). SETAC activities were highlighted by SETAC Vice President Dr. Paul van den Brink (The Netherlands) and a keynote talk was then given by Dr. Rai Kookana (Australia) who introduced the risk-based approach and discussed the role of risk indicators for minimizing off-site impacts of pesticides. Following this, Dr. van den Brink, Dr. Alistair Boxall (UK) and Dr. Anu Kumar (Australia) discussed the environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology of pesticides in the context of tropical ecosystems.

A software demonstration was given by Dr. Kookana and potential applications of CSIRO’s PIRI were discussed at length with the participants. The workshop participants endorsed the utility of risk indicators such as PIRI, and highlighted the need for a tool customized for Indian needs and of quality local data on environmental fate and effects.

India Workshop discussionA panel of representatives from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (Dr. T.P. Rajendran), Directorate of General of Health Services (Dr. D. Kanungo), Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee (Mr. Sushil Khurana), industry (Mr. Samir Dave) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Dr Neeta Thacker), provided their expert comments and assessment of the pesticide issues in India and the way forward. Participants and panel members highlighted several issues ranging from ecosystem and human health impacts of pesticides, enhancing eco-literacy, need for greater improvements in regulatory frameworks, and especially a stricter compliance with existing regulations. Trade of spurious pesticides was identified as a major issue in India that needs urgent control. The panel thanked SETAC for taking the initiative and called for a greater collaboration in future.

The day before the workshop (25 November 2010), Dr. van den Brink and Dr. Kookana presented a seminar at the Agrochemicals Division of IARI on the topics of environmental fate and effects of pesticides on tropical ecosystems.

Dr. van den Brink and panelDr. van den Brink provided an overview of SETAC activities around the globe including its publications. The seminar was sponsored by the SPS India. Post-graduate students and staff from IARI and other institutes attended and interacted with the speakers.

The workshop was financially sponsored by SETAC and SETAC A/P chapter. TERI, SPS and CSIRO Australia provided logistical support. Special thanks to Dr. Nutan Kaushik (TERI) Dr. S. Walia and Dr. A. Dixit (SPS); Dr. Kenneth Leung (SETAC Asia/Pacific), Mike Mozur (SETAC); Dr. van den Brink (University of Wageningen); Dr. Boxall (University of York); Dr. Mike McLaughlin and Dr. Kumar (CSIRO Australia) for their support in making this workshop a success.

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