Paraquat in India: Untenable risk for farmer and workers

A new report published today shows that the herbicide paraquat is widely used under high–risk conditions in India. Rules and recommendations are often ignored, and users have no means to protect themselves and to get relevant information. The victims are farmers and workers who are suffering from numerous adverse health effects caused by paraquat. The report’s authors call on the 154 Parties to the Rotterdam Convention to add the most common paraquat formulation to the Convention when they meet in three weeks’ time in Geneva. Such a listing will support developing countries to make an informed decision on the importation of paraquat.

Press Release by PAN India, IUF, PAN Asia and the Pacific, Berne Declaration

Geneva, Penang, Thrissur (Kerala), Zürich; April 23, 2015

The report “Conditions of paraquat use in India” published today by IUF, Pesticide Action Network (PAN)Asia and the Pacific, PAN India and the Berne Declaration, shows the shocking reality about the use of paraquat in India. This highly hazardous herbicide is already banned in many countries around the world, including African and Asian countries, the European Union, and Switzerland, the home country of Syngenta, the main producer of Paraquat. Nevertheless, it is still one of the world’s most widely used herbicides, especially in developing countries, where its use leads to the poisoning of countless workers and farmers.

The data, collected across six states in India, show that paraquat is sold in plastic carrying bags, that many users can’t read the label, that users mix it with other ingredients which is not recommended, that users apply it with leaking knapsack sprayers and use it on crops that the herbicide is not approved for. Personal protective equipment is nearly non-existent. These practices increase exposure and the risk to human health. As a result, the farmers and workers suffer from headaches, vomiting, burning sensations, breathing difficulty, muscle pain and/or abdominal discomfort.Paraquat is being used on about 25 crops (in the study area) while the Central Insecticide Board & Registration Committee (CIBRC) has approved its use on only nine crops. Furthermore, manufacturers of paraquat (including the main manufacturer Syngenta) have recommended its use on crops not approved by the CIBRC; this is in violation of the Indian Insecticides Act. The study also shows that the use of paraquat in India violates the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management, and the manufacturers, as well as the Indian Government, have a duty to change this untenable situationIn three weeks, the delegates of the 154 parties to the Rotterdam Convention will meet in Geneva to decide on whether to list the most common paraquat formulation in Annex III of the Convention. The result of this study underlines the need for such a listing, which will first of all facilitate information exchange about its characteristics, and help countries to make an informed decision about its importation. We call on all parties to support the listing, to give countries the possibility to act in a responsible manner, and to protect human health.

For more information

Sue Longley, IUF: Tel: +41 22 793 2233; Email:
Sarojeni Rengam, PAN AP: Tel: +604 657 0271; Email:
Sri. C. Jayakumar, PAN India: Tel: +91 944 7016587; Email:
François Meienberg, Berne Declaration: Tel: +41 44 277 70 04; Email:

The report : “Conditions of paraquat use in India” can be downloaded here.