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Farzana Panhwar

For the record
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Farzana Panhwar

Chemicals banned in the developed countries are exported to third world countries including Pakistan

Jan 03 - 16, 2000

Farzana Panhwar, is the president of Sindh Rural Women's Uplift Group. She is committed to work for improving the lot of the rural women and addressing the serious issues faced by the agriculture sector in Pakistan. She did her Masters in Bio-chemistry from University of Karachi in 1981. She worked on soil chemistry, macro and micro nutrients, composts, organic fertilizers and growth regulators as applied to fruit crops and post harvest technology of sub-tropical fruits. Her outstanding research work in the agriculture sector has already been acknowledged by the United States where she was awarded Gold Medal of Honour. She is the author of a large number of articles published in the prestigious magazines and newspapers around the world. Despite devoting her best for the cause of agriculture sector she was not given due recognition in Pakistan what really she deserves.

PAGE: In the light of your extensive research in the field of composts and organic fertilizers what is the future of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in Pakistan.

FARZANA: Pakistan imports almost all plant protection chemicals from abroad. Criteria for standaridization of chemicals are their ability to kill crop enemies, without any regards to adverse effects of chemicals on human health and environment. Of the chemicals allowed for import in Pakistan 31 per cent have been banned in UK and USA since 1982.

PAGE: Would you like to identify the banned chemicals allowed in Pakistan.

FARZANA: Referring to a survey she conducted of 202 chemicals on the standardized list of the government published in the official Gazette on Sept 14, 1994, she was horrified to know that out of 202 standardised chemicals for local use, 63 of them are banned or their use has been restricted in the United Kingdom and USA since 1982 yet they are still imported and sold in Pakistan.

PAGE : Are these banned chemicals are dangerous for human health

FARZANA: These chemicals are responsible for serious diseases in human beings, polluting ground water used for drinking purposes for both human and animals and toxic to some animals. Such chemicals are manufactured and sold under different names. Some of them are Dicofol, Benomyl, Captan, Chlorothalonil, Copper Compound mancozen, Copper Oxinate, Copper Hydroxide, Cuprous oxide, Metiram, Thiophanate Methyl, Triadimefon, Ametryn+Atrazine Meolachlor, Thidiazuron and Amitraz etc.

PAGE: When these hazardous chemicals are banned who is producing them ?

FARZANA: The tragedy is that while a chemical is banned for use in developed countries, it is allowed to be manufactured in the very countries for export abroad and essentially to the Third World countries. For the manufacturing countries it is not only foreign exchange earner but producer of employment and source of taxes to the government. Such chemicals do harm in the Third World countries specially the health hazards.

PAGE: Are the buyers of these chemicals are not aware of the danger

FARZANA: We all are opposed to chemical war-fare and want destruction of all such manufacturing plants in any country. In this class of chemicals the governments are the buyers and spend huge amount on them secretly. The use of chemicals in war fare is illegal and immoral as per International Conventions and the culprit countries if found are punished severely. In case of farm chemicals which have already proved to be dangerous, there is no ban on their manufacture or export. The ban is only on their use within the country of origin. Two types of chemicals for use in war-fare or on crops are health hazards and even cause deaths and yet farm chemicals banned for use in the developed countries are allowed to be exported to developing countries, she disclosed.

PAGE : How do you see the future of agriculture sector in Pakistan

FARZANA : Said with a bitter smile on her face that those who work sincerely in this country are always cornered by the people of vested interest.

Citing the example of injustice with her, she recalled her nomination as a delegate to the United Fourth World Conference on Women, by Sindh Rural Women Uplift Group at Beijing International Convention Center from Sept. 5-15, 1995. Despite her registeration and accreditation as a participant in the conference she was not allowed to attend the conference while two flights full of so called representatives recommended purely on political considerations were allowed to waste the opportunity by taking the occasion for a joy ride.