When Worlds Collide #78: Homicide by Pesticides: Can we escape?

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday broadsheet newspaper on 11 August 2013

Everybody lives downstream of somebody else!

That was the core message in a column I wrote a year ago (26 August 2012) about agricultural runoff causing major environmental and public health problems.

One such impact in Sri Lanka, mass scale chronic kidney failure (CKDu), has received much attention in recent months. One of several hypotheses for this medical emergency implicates chemical pesticides.

Some environmentalists have demanded action as a precautionary measure. In April 2013, the Health Ministry said it would ban the import of three pesticides (Chlorpynphos, Propanyl and Caboryl): apparently chemicals in these pesticides were found in urine samples of CKDu patients.

Banning rarely solves problems. But tightening the 90% state subsidy on chemical fertilisers, (which in 2009 cost 0.6% of total GDP) can reduce overuse and the…

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