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Government Gazette

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 years.

They are:

* 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 home.

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 the stomach).

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.

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