ROME (AP) - Pesticides are polluting water and food supplies and poisoning spray operators, a U.N. agency said Thursday in a call for countries to adopt safer standards for pesticide-equipment and farmer training.
In many cases, the only guidance on how to use a potentially dangerous product comes from representatives of the pesticide companies, said Theodor Friedrich of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization agency's agricultural engineering division.
"Many farmers still believe in high volumes, high pressure and high doses as the most appropriate way to apply pesticides," Friedrich said.
The agency provided these examples:
- Malaysian spray-operators have been poisoned because of the lack of training, badly maintained equipment and insufficient protective clothing.
- Colombian flower-growers and orchard-tenders in Brazil use 10 times as much pesticide as necessary.
- Pakistani farmers waste about half their pesticides, which has led to groundwater pollution.
- High levels of pesticide residues are found in Indian crops.
- More than half the spraying equipment in Indonesia leaks.