Consequent to the World Health Organisation (WHO) establishing the high content of arsenic as the cause of kidney disease in the dry zone, the Agriculture Ministry will recommend a quality control on pesticides imported to the country, a minister said yesterday.
The WHO, after years of experiments, published its findings on the disease. The experts’ panel had narrowed down the etiology of chronic renal failure to arsenic, cadmium and water hardness.
Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena presented this report to the Cabinet last Thursday. It would be studied by an inter-ministerial committee with the view of recommending measures to curb the spread of the disease, based on WHO findings.
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane told Daily Mirror yesterday that he was a part of this inter-ministerial team.
“We want to assess the quality of agro-chemicals imported to the country. Of course, we have a mechanism in place to decide on the composition of chemical fertiliser being imported to the country. Depending on the harvest of each season, we decide on the composition of fertiliser suitable for each agricultural area. Pesticide imports should be monitored,” he said.
Rajarata University’s Medical Faculty Lecturer Dr. Channa Jayasumana said WHO experiments had well established the risk factors, and therefore, action should be pursued. Dr. Jayasumana served in the two separate committees on kidney disease, appointed by the Environment Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry.
“Normally, kidney disease is caused by prolonged diabetes or hypertension. Yet, this disease is linked to agro- chemicals. There are some officials influenced by those in the agro-chemical industry. They are not ready to take action. I know the team appointed by the Agriculture Ministry did a very good job. However, the Environment Ministry’s team was influenced by industrialists. I wrote to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in this regard,” Dr. Jayasumana said.
Meanwhile, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) is organising a protest rally in Medawachchiya on April 5, demanding compensation from leading agro- chemical companies for patients.
“There are only five big companies involved in this business. They should compensate the victims. I am planning to bring a large number of affected patients to Medawachchiya for a protest next month,” the party’s Anuradhapura MP P. Harrison said. (KB)