Petitioners commend assembly health committee over toxic chemicals move

The petitioners affirmed the recommendations will go a long way towards safeguarding the environment
The petitioners affirmed the recommendations will go a long way towards safeguarding the environment

The petitioners in the public petition on ‘withdrawal of harmful chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market’ have lauded the recommendations set forth by the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Health report. “We commend the Health Committee for acknowledging that the evidence presented before it establishes a real public health concern, and making recommendations that seek to empower farmers and consumers to access sufficient information regarding pesticides including their risks and safe use.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the petitioners said the Health Committee had noted the increased problems arising from exposure to agricultural chemicals, and the committee has tasked certain bodies which include the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) among others to undertake an analysis of harmful and toxic pesticides and recommend their withdrawal from the Kenyan market as per the relevant laws, “It is our hope that the government agencies above will include independent researchers and the petitioners in the teams carrying out this analysis in line with the values of integrity, transparency and accountability laid out in the constitution.”

The Health Committee also ordered the Ministry of Health along with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to, within 6 months, conduct epidemiological studies in the country to determine the level of use of harmful pesticides and the disease burden caused, with these studies subsequently guiding the formulation of an informed national policy on pesticide use and management. The petitioners said this aligns with one of the key issues raised in the petition, where they highlighted several gaps in the existing pesticides regulatory framework which have led to the excessive and unsafe use.

They’ve also lauded the commitment to assist with budgetary and technical support to institutions such as the Poison Information Centre at Kenyatta National Hospital, Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS). “Specifically, the recommendations call on the National Treasury to increase allocations to KEPHIS and PCPB to enhance their monitoring capacity, regulation and data collection of pesticides levels in food products in the market as well as completion of the Residue Laboratory at PCBP. This is something we hope to see materialise in the national budget for the financial year 2020/2021.”

They’ve affirmed that they are looking forward to collaborating with all the relevant ministries, departments and agencies to fast track the implementation process, “To this end, we have compiled our ideas which we will be presenting to the respective institutions to hopefully assist in moving the process forward.”