By Makinde Oluwarotimi, Abuja
An experienced ecotoxicologist and lead scientist, Dr Silke Bollmohr, has said that if pesticides’ usage in Nigeria is not properly regulated, it can cause chronic health effects like cancer.
She stated this yesterday, during a webinar conference themed, ‘Challenges of Pesticide Use and Regulation in Nigeria’, organised by the Abuja branch of Heinrich Boll Stiftung, a political foundation.
According to Dr Bollmohr, in 2018, about $384million worth of pesticide products were imported into Nigeria. Presently, there is 1,004 pesticide products in the nation and altogether, they contain about 145 active ingredients.
“A lot of these pesticide products can have chronic effects on human health if their usage is not properly monitored. Out of the 1004 products currently available in Nigeria, after thorough research, our results were alarming.
“About 26 of these pesticide products have carcinogenic effects on the human health (cancerous). In order words, they can damage the human genome or disrupt cellular metabolic processes. We also discovered that about 244 of these products are neurotoxic, meaning that they cause adverse effects on the structure or function of the nervous system.
“Other alarming results and downsides of improper usage of these pesticides on our farms and in our warehouses like the toxic effects on bees, fishes etc, can be found in our full report.”
Dr Bollmohr, while discussing avenues by which these chronic health effects can be prevented, said that reduction in the use of toxic pesticides, pest control using mechanical, cultural and biological strategies would help greatly.
While speaking, the host of the conference, Jochen Lucksheiter, the Abuja head of office, said that even though Agriculture in Nigeria accounts for about one-fifth of the nation’s GDP and due to the rapidly increasing national population, economic situation and pandemic, there is increasing demand for locally produced food as against imported foods, the level of high dependence on the use of pesticides should be properly managed because of its negative effects on human health and animal life.
The question is, with the rapidly increasing Nigerian population and subsequent high demand for food, will the farmers, storage workers and customers be willing to cut down on their high dependence on pesticides for preservation? A lot of research needs to be done, properly reported and carefully examined.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and other organisations like the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Veterinary Medicines and Allied Products were well represented at the conference.