Lobby claims pesticides used in locust control pose danger to human nervous system
NAIROBI, Kenya, September 17 – An environmental lobby group has raised concerns about pesticides used in Kenya’s locust control campaign with initial assessments on soil samples, dead locusts and vegetation revealing the presence of a harmful chemical that could damage the human nervous system.
Environmental sampling carried out between March and April by Greenpeace Africa in the Rongai region of Nakuru identified deltamethrin as the chemical used for locust control.
In a letter to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, the lobby group said deltamethrin acts as a neurotoxin and exposure can cause acute effects with symptoms such as dizziness, numbness in the fingers, irritation. skin, headache, fatigue, involuntary contractions, tremors, burning throat. , eyes and nose.
“Deltamethrin is highly toxic to humans and other mammals and is a neurotoxin, the main concern being its potential to damage the nervous system of humans as well as being highly toxic to bees and fish,” said Claire Nasike, Greenpeace food activist. .
The ministry, in a food security monitoring report released on September 1, said Kenya had been free from Desert Locust invasions since the first week of May.
The ministry led by Munya said that locust mitigation was achieved through the deployment of sufficient equipment and an adequate supply of pesticides for locust spraying.
“The country has been desert locust free since the first week of May 2021,” the report said while ensuring farmers continued support to mitigate the impact of the locust invasion and disease.
As part of its request, the environmental company wants the ministry to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment to establish the impacts of recent locust control strategies on soil and water quality, biodiversity and human health.
“To make the findings of the environmental assessments public, we believe these requests are urgent and in the interest of protecting the health and food safety of Kenyans. We call on you to act in the best interests of Kenyans, ”the letter reads in part.
The company also wants the government to phase out deltamethrin in favor of biological alternatives in locust control, because of its toxicity in the environment at large and in particular for non-target organisms.
“During the phase-out period, if the use of deltamethrin is considered unavoidable, measures such as covering beehives and critical water points should be taken to mitigate the effects on bees and fish, switch to locally available biopesticides such as Neem oil (Mwarubaini), ”he added.
“Record and enforce the use of fungal biological control products such as ‘Green Muscle’ and ‘Novacrid’ which contain the biological agent Metarhizium anisopliae and Metarhizium acridum respectively,” read its proposals.
Additionally, Greenpeace said deltamethrin specifically poses a high risk to bees because it affects their rate of development, foraging habits, and interferes with feeding behavior.
“Disturbances in the foraging pattern of bees, for example through effects on navigation and behavior.” Interference with feeding behavior through repellant, anti-appetite or reduced olfactory effects, impacts of neurotoxic pesticides on learning processes (i.e. flower and nest recognition, spatial orientation) of insects, which are highly relevant and have been widely identified and studied in bees, ”the report adds.