Pesticide Warning

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

Two United Nations agencies are expressing concern about the safety of some pesticides used to kill insects. They report that about thirty percent of all pesticides sold in developing countries fail to meet widely accepted rules for quality. They say these products are a serious threat to human health and the environment.

The U-N Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization gave the warning.

In developing countries, pesticides are used mainly for agriculture. Pesticides kill insects and other organisms that threaten crops. Pesticides also are used for public health. They control insects that spread disease, such as mosquitoes that spread malaria.

The U-N agencies report that the market value of pesticides in developing countries last year was about three-thousand-million dollars. They say the estimated market value of pesticides worldwide was thirty-two-thousand-million dollars.

Officials say poor quality pesticides often contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals often are banned or restricted in some countries.

Possible causes of low quality in pesticides include production problems and failure to use the right chemicals. Officials say the active chemicals in many pesticides are stronger than those permitted by many governments. They also say poor quality pesticides may contain poisonous substances or substances that are not pure.

Officials say the quality of pesticide containers and product information on the containers are other concerns. They say information on the containers often fails to explain the active chemicals and how to use the product safely.

The W-H-O says products listing false information have been sold for years in some areas. The agencies say the problem of poor quality pesticides is widespread in parts of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. They called for worldwide acceptance of Food and Agriculture and World Health Organization pesticide rules. They say this would help guarantee the safe production and trade of pesticides.

Officials say the agencies' rules are especially important for developing countries. They say developing countries often lack systems for testing pesticides.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English