Insecticide menace: Committee pins blame on farmers

Lannate problem has persisted since several years: Agri officials

Lack of adequate precautionary methods, while spraying Lannate Insecticide is the cause of farmers taking ill in parts of Hunsur taluk, a committee of experts from Agriculture and Health departments has found.

The insecticide has been banned temporarily in the district. Following the hospitalisation of as many as 74 farmers in the taluk since November 1, (three cases reported on Wednesday), and the death of a farmer (November 29), the committee visited Bannikuppe village in Hunsur taluk and interacted with them. It has recommended several measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

The farmers who were taken ill, are now recuperating, while a report from Forensic Science Laboratory in the city is awaited, to ascertain whether a lethal dose of Lannate caused the death of the farmer.

The chemical which has caused illness among the farmers is Methomyl, a highly toxic chemical. It is used as an insecticide against ‘pod borer pests’ in several crops, such as soya beans. District Health Officer, Dr H T Puttaswamy said that farmers had inhaled the chemical while spraying the Avare crop. The chemical caused respiratory distress, dizziness, weakness and other symptoms.

“If they had taken basic precautionary measures such as covering their noses while spraying the insecticide, the chemical would not have affected them,” he said.

Not recommended

Joint Director of Agriculture department, M Mahantheshappa said that the pesticide was not recommended for Avare crop. “The crop too is affected by pod borer pests. Since, farmers knew that Lannate was effective in other crops, they applied it on the Avare crop too,” he said.

Methomyl, has a knock-down effect, which is why the toxic insecticide was popular among farmers.

All insects die within two hours after the insecticide is sprayed. Without proper precautionary measures, it affects humans too, he said.

Left over stock

On allegations that the farmers had used the insecticide, after the expiry date, he dismissed the same. “Recent cases have been due to the left over stock used by farmers. Following the temporary ban in the district, sale of Lannate has been stopped,” he said.
“Methomyl, which goes with the brand name Lannate is not the only insecticide that is toxic. Several chemical fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides are toxic in nature.

Precautionary measures are essential to avoid harm,” he said. He said that such cases were being reported annually. However, the issue came to prominence as one of the farmers died, after spraying the insecticide.

Buy back
Assistant Director of the department, Venkatesh said that arrangements were being made to buy back Lannate insecticide from farmers. This apart, awareness programmes are also being held regarding the proper use of fertilisers, he said.

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