Pesticide management in Sri Lanka
Pesticides used in agriculture, public health, industrial, veterinary and domestic use can potentially end up in the water, either through seepage into groundwater, run-off into streams or via the municipal wastewater collection systems. On their way they often threaten human and environmen- tal health. Balancing the desired benefits of pesticide use, whilst minimizing the potentially harmful side effects of these potent chemicals primarily remains the responsibility of governments.
Sri Lanka’s high yielding crop varieties, such as tea and rice, are susceptible to pest damage, resulting in a need for safe and effective pest control. Sri Lanka has prohibited a large number of highly toxic chemicals without affecting its agri- cultural production and today produces one of the world’s cleanest teas with regards to all persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and WHO hazard class Ia and Ib chemicals. How was this achieved?
The Office of the Registrar of Pesticides, established within the Department of Agriculture looks at product registration, provides laboratory analysis for monitoring programmes and coordinates enforcement of the Control of Pesticides Act No 33 of 1980, guided by a multi-disciplinary and multi- sectoral Technical Advisory Committee. One of the keys to pesticide management is chemicals registration. Prerequi- sites are the conformation to international standards such as those of FAO and WHO; and the registration status in other countries. The Rotterdam Convention is one of the key international instruments providing governments with guidelines and detailed information on product use and risk profiles.
The adoption of international standards and cooperation is cost-effective in countries with limited financial and labora- tory capacity. Some challenges remain, but given that most of Sri Lanka’s pesticide control only started a little over two decades ago, the progress that has been made thanks to the institutional arrangements, legislation, and enforcement, has been remarkable.
(Source: Manuweera, 2007; Manuweera et al, 2008) 66
APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
There are numerous examples where attempts to transfer tech- nologies from one place to another fails. Different approaches to wastewater management are required for different regions, rural and urban areas, with different population sizes and dif- ferent stages of economic governance depending on capacity to manage wastewater and capacity for governance. Approaches can also vary depending on the quality standard required for end users or end-point disposal. The sanitation ladder provides a useful instrument to assess the local status of sanitation in a community, municipality or region, pointing to optimal waste- water management strategies.
Cradle-to-cradle – can we do away with wastewater?
The cradle-to-cradle philosophy suggests a new form of pro- duction using processes that rely on reusable, biodegradable or consumable materials. No waste, as we know it at all and in fact the possibility of using production methods to improve the environment, for example water going out cleaner than it came in. With cradle-to-cradle there is no end, as discarded products once they have served their purpose should provide food for the biosphere or be completely recyclable in the technosphere. Examples include carpets that are made of a polymer that is completely recyclable – it can be depolymerized and used again and again or textiles that are made from completely non-toxic material, tested down to parts per million, that are completely biodegradable and nutritious for the environment.
Why is it currently acceptable, even in developed countries with environmental guidelines, for manufactures and consumers to demand products whose production and or disposal damage the environment? We tolerate products that are inherently poi- sonous, are poisonous to make and have a toxic legacy. We need international regulations to drive innovation so that cradle-to- cradle becomes the norm. Companies are now starting to adopt cradle-to-cradle production and finding that it is economic to have design principles, that are “good” rather than “less bad”.
(Source: McDonough and Braungart, 2002)