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HomeWorldSri Lanka Applauded For Life-saving Pesticides Ban, Winning ‘Oscars On Best Policies’

Sri Lanka Applauded For Life-saving Pesticides Ban, Winning ‘Oscars On Best Policies’


Workshop
in Monaragala district, Sri Lanka helps transition farmers
from chemical-intensive farming to agroecology. Photo:
Vikalpani National Women’s
Federation

Regional advocacy group
PAN Asia Pacific (Pesticide Action Network) congratulated
Sri Lanka for winning
the Future Policy Special Award 2021
in relation to two
policies that have led to the banning of Highly Hazardous
Pesticides (HHPs) used in suicide cases through pesticide
poisoning. The Award—often referred to as the ‘Oscar on
Best Polices’—celebrates the most effective policy
solutions that minimise the adverse effects of exposure to
chemicals on human health and the environment. Sri Lanka’s
inspiring and impactful pesticides policies are one of the
five winners selected by the World Future Council among 55
nominated policies from 36 countries.

Sri Lanka had
one of the world’s highest suicide rates, and pesticide
poisoning accounted for more than two-thirds of all cases.
Sri Lanka’s Control of Pesticides Act No. 33 of 1980 and
amendments of 1994, 2011 and 2020 ensures that only less
hazardous pesticides are available. It has been used to ban
a total of 36 HHPs (highly hazardous pesticides). These
pesticide regulations, as well as Sri Lanka‘s National
Policy and Action Plan on Prevention of Suicide of 1997,
have contributed to one of the greatest decreases in suicide
rates ever achieved globally.

The country’s suicide
rate has been reduced by 70 percent, particularly in rural
villages and among children and youth. The bans saved about
93,000 lives over 20 years at a direct government cost of
less than USD 50 per life, according to the World Future
Council. The Council also pointed out that Sri Lanka has
maintained its agricultural productivity, and recommended
the banning of HHPs as one of the most cost-effective
approaches for suicide prevention.

“We congratulate
the policymakers and the people of Sri Lanka for this award.
We hope that it inspires policymakers in other countries in
the Asia Pacific region that grapple with pesticides
poisoning, and suicides, to take decisive action to ban
Highly Hazardous PesticidesHHPs. The Sri Lanka experience
debunks the myth that pesticide bans lead to decreased
productivity. The reality is that it dramaticallysuch bans
save thes lives of many farmers that are otherwise
needlessly lost, while reaping benefits for human health,
ecosystems, and agriculture and the economy,” said Dr.
Meriel Watts, PANAP director of Science and
Policy.

PANAP also commended the Sri Lankan government
for standing
by a ban on the import of chemical fertilizer, pesticides
and weedicides
declared under the Imports and Exports
(Control) Act No. 1 of 1969, which was announced
by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
last in
May.

“The Sri Lankan ban on imported chemical
fertilizers and pesticides can protect people, especially
children, from the most harmful effects of agrochemicals. In
fact, many of these products are banned for use in developed
countries but still exported to the Global South by the
world’s largest agrochemical companies. The ban is a
laudable assertion of sovereignty that opens up an exciting
array of possibilities, especially if the government extends
full support for the transition to agroecological approaches
in farming,” Watts further said.

The winning
policies of the Future Policy Award 2021 will be celebrated
on 6 July 2021 with a high-level, virtual Award Ceremony. To
participate at the Award Ceremony and to learn more about
the winning policies for the Future Policy Award 2021, visit
www.worldfuturecouncil.org/chemicals.

PAN
Asia Pacific (PANAP) is one of five regional centres of
Pesticide Action Network, a global network dedicated to the
elimination of harm upon humans and the environment by
pesticide use. It is based in Penang,
Malaysia.

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