Aerial spraying of rice for the control of the dreaded paddy bug is engaging the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the final authority on whether or not aerial spraying of pesticides would be allowed in Guyana.
The issue of aerial spraying of pesticides came to the foreground after the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB) ordered that Air Services Limited immediately stop aerial spraying of pesticides in rice cultivation along the Corentyne coast.
This was after the board was inundated with complaints from farmers and residents of Black Bush and several other villages along the Corentyne front lands. Currently there are no regulations in place for aerial spraying of pesticides here.
Aerial spraying of pesticides was one of the hot topics discussed when rice farmers and millers of East Berbice Corentyne met with Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder at Skeldon recently.
Minister Holder informed rice farmers that aerial spraying of pesticides is a complex matter that has to be looked at from all aspects. He pointed out that “the issue of aerial spraying to apply pesticides, although effective, can be damaging to human health.”
Minister Holder explained that while the final decision rests with the EPA, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the PTCCB will all have an input in guiding the final decision arrived at by the EPA.
The Agriculture Minister also pointed out that the PTCCB is continuously working with other agencies to ensure human health is preserved especially in light of the recent spike in suicides by way of ingesting toxic chemicals.
He stressed however that the EPA has to consider all factors relative to aerial spraying since the application of pesticides on crops in this manner poses significant risks to the environment, human and animal health. There are also implications for water ways with sensitive ecosystems, public drinking water sources, recreational waters and residential areas. (With adaptations)