Paraquat use to be phased out
The use of the Paraquat (herbicide) is to be phased out in Sri Lanka
within the next three years.
The Pesticide Technical and Advisory Committee functioning under the
Control of Pesticides Act No. 33 of 1980 has taken this decision
considering the very high rate of deaths due to paraquat poisoning
caused by its inherent toxic properties, specially in misuse among the
farming community, said Assistant Director of Agriculture (Media) K.B.
Gunarathne in a press release.
The release said the committee also decided on the following
regulatory measures until the use of paraquat is phased out in three
* All paraquat formulations including the formulation with the Inteon
TM and other similar technologies to reduce their paraquat ion
concentration to 6.5% with effect from 1st of January 2008.
* The phasing out scheme of the product to be worked out at the end
of the year 2008.
* The annual quantity of paraquat formulations sold in 2008 shall not
exceed the present level.
* The existing stocks of paraquat formulations with higher than 6.5%
of paraquat ion concentration in the country are to be deplete through
the regular marketing channel.
The release added that there are around 400-500 deaths each year in
Sri Lanka from Paraquat poisoning. The majority of agrochemical
poisoning are impulsive injections of chemical stored in or near the
In Sri Lanka the injection of Paraquat has around 65% mortality, much
higher than any other agrochemical. Unlike other agrochemicals, Paraquat
has no proven antidotes and supportive care is relatively ineffective at
preventive death a substantial reduction of poisoning deaths is unlikely
to be achieved by focusing solely on in hospital care.
For many years paraquat formulations in Sri Lanka contained stenching
agents, emetics and purgatives, without much obvious benefit. As a
result of an initiative by the pesticide regulatory authority a new
formulation of paraquat (Inteon TM) was developed with more emetic and
an alginate (an agent designed to form a gel which traps the paraquat in
In October 2006 the pesticide Registrar mandated a reduction in
paraquat concentration for all brands except on Inteon TM products, from
20% to 6.5%, and restricted the bottle size.
Preliminary reports on poisoning due to the new formulation suggest
the majority will remain well over 50% which demands consideration of
further regulatory measures.