|Impact of Pesticides and Other Chemicals on the Environment
Azhari Omer Abdelbagi1, Adam Ali Mohamed2Ahmed M. Elhindi3
and Ali Mohamed. Ali4
Chemicals are becoming indispensable part in our daily life. They are related to our nutrition, medicine, and use as pesticides, fertilizers, petrol, paints, cosmetics, glue, varnish, artificial fibers,…etc. despite these enormous use and benefits of chemicals they can cause and implicate some health and environmental problems. Examples of problems associated with them they can cause diseases like cancer, kidney, endocrine disrupting, and acute poisoning or cause environmental problems like ozone depleting, effect on terrestrial and aquatic animals, contamination on environmental media (air, water, food, land). All these are making clear to every one that “chemical safety – a national challenge” is not an empty phrase.
Internationally big effort is made to safe use of chemicals which are reflected in Chapter 19 of Agenda 21 which identified the elements for the sound management of the chemicals as: adequate legislation; information gathering and dissemination; capacity for risk assessment; and interpretation; establishment of risks policy; capacity for implementation and enforcement; capacity for rehabilitation of contaminated sites and poisoned persons; effective education programmes and capacity to respond to emergencies. Also legally binding instruments like Rotterdam Convention, Basle Convention, and Vienna Convention are now ratified by many countries.
In Sudan chemicals are managed in a piecemeal fashion, with control being introduced for specific group or class of chemicals and in specific area. For example pesticides are managed by Pesticides and Plants Protection Act, drugs and cosmetics managed by Pharmaceuticals and Poison Act, food and additives managed by Food Control Act. This approach left large group of chemicals like fertilizers, industrial chemicals consumer chemicals and environmental contaminants without any system of management. Sudan not produce chemical but amount imported each year rapidly increasing.
Beside the loophole in the existing regulations and inadequate sectoral co-ordination and collaboration, health and environment are threaten by the large quantity of obsolete and stockpiles of pesticides and other chemicals that have been piled near residential area and scattered all over the country. Also empty containers and contaminated soils (spillage, and dumping sites) are another problems.
Trials for use of pesticides in Sudan started with the introduction of Bordeaux mixture in 1941 followed by the chlorinated hydrocarbon DDT for the control of cotton jassid (Jacobiasca lubica deBerg) in Gezira scheme in 1949. The success of the trial, which started with a single application against a single major pest, initiated the interest for expansion of the treated area and opens the way for subsequent introduction of other related compounds. The early 1950s witnessed the introduction of the organophosphate compounds, namely parathion. In the same decade and due to the outstanding increase in cotton prices during the Korean War, many products were tested and released for commercial use. Early in the sixties organophosphates became a reliable partner to the organochlorines for the control of the complex of chewing and sucking insect pests, when dimethoate was first used in 1960/61 season. The same decade witnessed the discovery of a new generation of insecticides, the carbamates, as well as an intensive screening effort to select the most suitable products from many brands and formulations available in the market.
The period from early sixties to late seventies witnessed progressive intensification and expansion in the cropped areas with subsequent increase in pest complexity and damage. This necessitates increase in chemical treatment with negative impact on human health and the environment. The number of applications during the season has also risen to levels to average 9-11. Organochlorines were the major group of pesticides, which flourished during this period favored by their high potency against wide range of agricultural and public health pests, cheapness and environmental persistence.
The problems arising from the increased use of pesticides coupled with the drastic change in the cotton pest complex led in the early 80s to the introduction of synthetic pyrethroids in order to replace DDT and the insecticides mixtures containing DDT which, were then banned.
Early in the 1990s the Sudan Government declared integrated pest management (IPM) as its crop protection strategy and many attempts were made to reduce the use of pesticides and rely more on non-chemical means of crop protection. Nevertheless, the use of pesticides remains an important component of crop production policy, especially after the introduction of a new generation of pesticides, which is claimed to have better biological efficiency, less negative impact on the environment and more cost-effective performance, thus complying with IPM objectives. Among these new products are the BT toxins, the neonicotinoid imdacloprid, and the phenylpyrazole, fibronil. Currently there are over 600 products being registered for commercial use in the Sudan. However, only Limited number of the registered compounds dominates the local import despite the huge number of registered products. The desirability of certain products may be attributed to their superior efficacy under local conditions, safety and cheapness.
The recent advancement in agrochemical industry with the tremendous efforts currently focused on the use of genetically modified crops is a new challenge facing crop protection policy in the Sudan which still stands fairly in the opposition of such technology for many logical reasons.
Pesticide Regulation in the Sudan
Pesticides use in the Sudan was governed by the Pesticide Act / 1974 which was amended to Pesticide and Pest Control Act / 1994. The Act regulates all activities related to pesticides import, transport, storage, uses, formulation and any other related activities in the country. These functions were executed by the National Pesticides Council (NPC). The NPC is a multidisciplinary inter-ministerial committee, which includes representatives of all stakeholders within the country including the Ministries of Agriculture, Animal Resources, Health, Research Institutions, and Universities … etc. The council is chaired by the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture with the Director General of the Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) as the repertoire and Registrar of the Council. The Registrar is responsible for all administrative and executive functions of the Council. According to this act subsidiary councils can be formed in the 26 states of the Sudan. Similarly subsidiary central or regional, permanent or interim committees are formed to assist in performing specific functions mandated by the council.
The 1994 Act is abroad general umbrella law with various explanations and specific details, which may require periodical revisions, dealt with in seven relevant bylaws, which are easy to amend on periodical terms as necessary. The last revision of these bylaws was done in 2002. A list of these bylaws is given below;
Trading and organization of the commercial handling of pesticides and pest control products bylaw for the year 2002.
Pesticides and pest control products inspection bylaw for the year2002.
Organization of the storage and transport of pesticides and pest control products bylaw for the year 2002.
Protection of personnel dealing with pesticides and pest control products bylaw for the year 2002.
Importation of pesticides and pest control products bylaw for the year 2002.
Registration of pesticides and pest control products bylaw for the year 2002.
Formulation of pesticides and pest control products bylaw for the year 2002.
The registration system of pesticides in the Sudan:
The registration of pesticides in Sudan can be summarized in the following points;
Applicants must first fill Form 1 for provisional registration and submit it to the registrar of the NPC.
The NPC passes the form to the technical committee which reviews the information given in the form according to the Pesticide and Pest Control Act/1994 and either recommends to the NPC to reject or accept the provisional registration of the pesticide.
Products approved for provisional registration shall be tested by relevant research institutions under local conditions and results of the test shall be approved by the National Pests and Diseases Committee (NPDC) which either recommends (or rejects) to the NPC the registration of the product for commercial use using the following measures;
Method of testing should follow the approved protocol;
Residues of the product(s) tested in edible crops and/or the environment should be within acceptable limits (Codex Alimentarius).
Standard treatment(s) must be included in every field assay and the standard should be an already registered product.
Test products are only recommended if their biological performance is as good as or better than that of the standard products.
The NPC reviews the recommendation of the NPDC and either approves it or rejects.
The product is thus registered for commercial use