24th NOVEMBER, 2020
PETITIONERS LAUD NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S HEALTH COMMITTEE ON RAFT OF RECOMMENDATIONS TO RID THE COUNTRY OF TOXIC CHEMICALS
The petitioners in the public petition on ‘withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market’ welcome the recommendations put forward in the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Health report, tabled on 15th October 2020.
We commend the Health Committee for acknowledging that the evidence presented before it establishes a real public health concern, and making recommendations that seek to empower farmers and consumers to access sufficient information regarding pesticides including their risks and safe use.
The Health Committee noted that many complex problems have emerged as a result of increased exposure to agricultural chemicals such as an increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases and environmental degradation. It is in this regard that the Committee has tasked bodies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to, within 90 days of the report’s tabling, undertake an analysis of harmful and toxic pesticides and recommend their withdrawal from the Kenyan market as per the relevant laws.
It is our hope that the government agencies above will include independent researchers and the petitioners in the teams carrying out this analysis in line with the values of integrity, transparency and accountability laid out in the constitution. This indeed, presents a superb opportunity for the relevant ministries, departments and agencies to take the lead in cleaning up the food and farming system of our country.
The Health Committee also ordered the Ministry of Health together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to, within 6 months, conduct epidemiological studies in the country to determine the level of use of harmful pesticides and the disease burden caused, with these studies subsequently guiding the formulation of an informed national policy on pesticide use and management. This aligns with one of the key issues raised in the petition, in which the petitioners highlighted several gaps in the existing pesticides regulatory framework which have led to the excessive and unsafe use.
As petitioners, we also embrace the commitment to assist with budgetary and technical support to institutions such as the Poison Information Centre at Kenyatta National Hospital, Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS). Specifically, the recommendations call on the National Treasury to increase allocations to KEPHIS and PCPB to enhance their monitoring capacity, regulation and data collection of pesticides levels in food products in the market as well as completion of the Residue Laboratory at PCBP. This is something we hope to see materialise in the national budget for the FY2020/2021.
We also welcome the move to extend the responsibility of improving the pesticides situation beyond the agricultural sector by recommending introduction of a curriculum, at all levels of our education system, on responsible pesticide use.
It is our prayer that the governing ministries and bodies charged with the responsibility to execute the recommendations, will work towards a more equitable and sustainable food system to transform agriculture into a sector that serves Kenyans and ecosystems.
Notably, PCBP is already a step ahead following its announcement to review registration of pest control products containing Chlorothalonil. In a circular addressed to local agents and registrants in August 2020, the institution noted the move is as a result of unsettling reports and data from European Union on the harmful effects of this active ingredient to human health and environment.
That said, we look forward to collaborating with all the relevant ministries, departments and agencies to fast track the implementation process. To this end, we have compiled our ideas which we will be presenting to the respective institutions to hopefully assist in moving the process forward. We strongly believe that there is only one side in this issue; that of safeguarding the wellbeing of Kenyans and their environment, today and in the future.
Notes for Editors:
- National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Health report on the public petition on withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market dated 15th October 2020. Available here
- Public petition regarding withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market (No. 70 of 2019). Available here
- Petitioners – Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA-K), Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Resources Oriented Development Initiatives (RODI Kenya) and Route to Food Initiative (RTFI).