Women in danger
Women farm labourers are more vulnerable to pesticide poisoning -- and they don't even know it. A survey of 13 states conducted by the Consumers Forum, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Consumer Organisations and the All India Women's Conference, found that pesticide-induced headaches, vomiting and uneasiness were common among women. ***(more common than among men? If so, how much more?) However, more than 60 per cent of the women surveyed thought chemical pesticides were indispensable and were totally unaware of bans on some pesticides. Most users were under the impression that the use of pesticides in large quantities ensures good yields.
The findings were presented at a national workshop on women and pesticides, sponsored by the Asia-Pacific wing of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), held in the Capital in November. Participants at the workshop expressed alarm at the rising incidence of pesticide-related poisoning among Indian women.
The forum made a strong case for judicious and safe use of chemical pesticides and their gradual phase-out to make way for bio-pesticides. Argued Pang Hai Long of PAN Asia-Pacific, "We must treat an agricultural field as an ecological complex and use the balance between bio-organisms and insects in a way that pests get eliminated and we are saved from using hazardous pesticides."