MESSAGE BY DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES AND LABOUR, DR. THE HONORABLE KEDRICK D. PICKERING
IN OBSERVANCE OF PESTICIDES AWARENESS WEEK 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Fellow BVIslanders, another year has passed since we last observed Pesticides Awareness Week. Safe chemical management ought not to be an event we remember once a year, but practice all year round. Safety first must be a way of life. We must make the protection of human health and the environment the absolute priority in pests and diseases management decisions.
Toxic chemicals, pesticides and other agro-chemicals are used to enhance the production of goods and services in sectors such as agriculture, tourism, health and in our private homes. At the same time, if these chemicals are not properly utilized, they will adversely affect human health and the environment.
The theme for Pesticides Awareness Week 2015 which commenced on Sunday 27, September 2015 is “Children are Precious: Protect them from Pesticides!” Children are at a greater risk from some pesticides for a number of reasons. Children's internal organs are still developing and maturing and their enzymatic, metabolic, and immune systems may provide less natural protection than those of an adult. There are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates. Children may be exposed more to certain pesticides because often they eat different foods than adults.
For instance, children typically consume larger quantities of milk, applesauce, and orange juice per pound of body weight than do adults. Children's behaviors, such as playing on the floor or on the grass where pesticides are commonly applied, or putting objects in their mouths, increase their chances of exposure to pesticides.
Adverse effects of pesticide exposure range from mild symptoms of dizziness and nausea to serious, long-term neurological, developmental and reproductive disorders. Large quantities of pesticides are used each year to combat pests on farm crops, in homes, places of business, schools, parks, hospitals, and other public places in our Territory.
This theme emphasizes the value and necessity of partnerships among communities, agencies, households, and individuals engaged in environmental management strategies. Our Government has initiated strategic action plans and legislation aimed at food safety, safety in the homes, protection of the environment, and sustainable agricultural and industrial development. Many of these initiatives require a collaborative approach for successful implementation.
As the primary regulatory body for pesticides management in the Territory, the Department of Agriculture was mandated to review and make recommendations on the Harmonization of Pesticides Registration in the Caribbean (Bill and Regulation) for its adoption and enactment.
This draft bill calls for the establishment of a Pesticides and Toxic Chemical Control Board which will be responsible for the:
- Registration of Pesticides,
- Licensing of pesticides imports and manufacture,
- Authorization for the sale of restricted pesticides,
- Registration of premises for sale of restricted pesticides,
- Authorization for use of restricted pesticides,
- Classification of pesticides,
- All other aspects of pesticide manufacture, importation, packaging, preparation for sale, disposal and use, and
- Training of pesticide users.
In our Territory and indeed the rest of the Caribbean, there is still much work to be done if we are to fulfill the obligations of the various trade agreements, and environmental agreements that were extended to us as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.
We recognize that no individual or organization, including the government, can achieve a safe chemical free environment on its own. As Minister responsible for Agriculture, I ask that we all commit ourselves to working together to promote our economic viability while safeguarding the health of our children, our people, and our environment at all times.
I wish you the citizenry of the Territory, and especially our children, an uneventful Pesticides Awareness Week and when it comes to pesticide always remember - safety first!
May God bless you and may God bless these Virgin Islands.
I thank you.