Pesticides remain #1 method of suicide locally; efforts afoot to change how it is used and stored

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By Kurt Campbell

[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture has called for a ramping up of awareness locally for the effects of pesticides and its association with suicide.

This call was made at an award ceremony on Tuesday, October 29 for schools from across the country that took part in a pesticide awareness campaign and coincides with the observance of Pesticide Awareness Week 2013 – which is being held under the theme: “Store Wise – Save Lives.”

Speaking at the event, Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said it is important to note that while pesticides are released intentionally into the environment to increase yield and productivity, it is also harmful to our health.

It is against this backdrop that the bellow for proper storage and use of the commodity is being championed.

In this regard, Dr. Ramsammy pointed out that Guyana as a country has made significant strides and has evolved from an era where pesticides were being used indiscriminately.

“We are now much more respectful to the dangers that pesticides pose and the efforts of those who import and properly store pesticides have been observed,” he added.

However, storage at the community level leaves much to be desired, according to the Minister. He expressed dismay that established rules and regulations for storage are not always followed and the unfortunate perils of pesticides are recorded every day.

To help in addressing the effects of the improper storage of the commodity and raising the awareness for its effects on the life of families, Dr. Ramsammy reminded of the overwhelming number of persons who kill themselves yearly in Guyana using the commodity.

Over the last 10 years more than 15,000 persons committed suicide in Guyana with pesticides being the number one method because people do not rigidly adhere to the rules governing its sale and storage, Ramsammy said.

“It is criminal for anyone to sell teenagers pesticides and anyone who sell to these persons need to be ashamed of themselves and feel guilty because they could be contributing to a death” he added, adding that “authorized persons must demonstrate good judgment, there must be no flexibility and limited access.”

He says the country continues to make strides to phase out the more harmful of pesticides and condemn any attempt to smuggle these back into the country noting that it can expose the people and country to a disaster.

Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm, and respiratory failure.

Acute dangers – such as nerve, skin, and eye irritation and damage, headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and systemic poisoning – can sometimes be dramatic, and even occasionally fatal.

Chronic health effects may occur years after even minimal exposure to pesticides in the environment, or result from the pesticide residues which we ingest through our food.

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