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Contact: Richmond Felix

June 25, 1998 - The Coordinating Group of Pesticides Control Boards of the OECS and Barbados, ended its 3rd Annual Meeting Wednesday with a challenge from Agriculture Minister, the Hon. Cass Elias.

"A few years ago, we had a very unfortunate incident here. A number of banana growers in this country and the region were found to have been exposed to pesticides that were so dangerous that it affected their ability to reproduce," said Mr. Elias.

There has been a tendency for pesticides that are known to be dangerous in more developed countries, to be dumped into small island states. This was possible because of a trend of poor control mechanisms and pressure to maximize production.

According to Mr. Elias who is also the Minister responsible for the Environment, the use of weed-killers like "GRAMOX ZONE" should be discouraged. He says that there must be a proactive and collaborative effort, in the region in finding safer ways to control weeds.

Elias, "Perhaps one of the factors that lead us to the temptation to come to sub-standard or discarded chemicals in our region may be cost. I throw the challenge as to whether or not the time is not right for us to consider joint procurement and put on fast track a standardization that would ensure that the manufactures as they always do, do not find a way to go around us."

The Coordinating Group of Pesticides Control Boards of the OECS and Barbados, is responsible for ensuring the safe use of pesticides in the region. Its priority areas range from institutional to functional.

Julius Polius, Incoming Chairman of the Coordinating Group of Pesticides Control Boards of the OECS and Barbados told GIS that, "Many years ago the OECS/NRMU assisted us in putting in place draft legislation. To date it has not been adopted by any of the governments." Polius believes that the Group must ensure that something be done so that those draft legislation can be considered and passed into law.

He added that the question of management of pesticides must also be looked into. Focusing on methods of application that are less risky as far as exposure to users and making sure that what enters the islands are safe and what is not safe is kept out. Public education and information sharing he says, are expected to play a big role in helping the Coordinating Group achieve its goals.

Sustainable development is a high priority area of the OECS. In fact, there has been increasing awareness of issues that relate to the goals of sustainable development since the 1992 Earth Summit.

As those in the region attempt to give meaning to the process, the appropriate policies, planning framework and implementation mechanisms must be put in place to ensure the economic and social well being of the people, especially those in the Agricultural Sector. The work of Pesticides Control Boards will assume even more significance, as the new role of pesticides in sustainable agriculture is considered.


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