Rabat – The National Office of Food Safety (ONSSA) has announced that three hazardous farming pesticides, all of which have proven to be harmful to the health of humans and the environment, are being sold openly in several regions in Morocco.
The chemical products, which are widely banned internationally, are still commonly used in Morocco, reported Moroccan newspaper Assabah. ONSSA, according to the daily, identified two Asian and a European pesticide as being heavily used in farming in Morocco.
One European chemical, which is used in tomatoes farms in Morocco, was banned in France due to the danger it posed to the health of farmers and consumers. Thailand has banned the use of one of the three pesticides named by ONSSA. It has been classified as a carcinogen.
Doctor OumKaltoum Harati told Morocco World News that, “pesticides have played an important role improving the quality of agricultural products. However, many studies have raised concerns over health risks that can be caused by pesticides.”
Dr. Harati added that both long-term and short-term health exposure can affect humans’ peripheral nervous system, white blood cells, liver function, and electrolyte levels. Pesticides can also cause kidney disorders as adverse dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological, respiratory, reproductive, and endocrine effects, according to Harati.
Harati said that the need to protect consumers and agricultural workers against pesticides is paramount. “There are many pesticides banned in many countries, given the fact of their potential risk of acute toxicity after exposure as well as a chronic toxicity.”
The doctor added that occupational, accidental and intentional pesticide exposures might result in a greater risk of death for farmers and farm workers.
Assabah added that the three pesticides are being smuggled into Morocco in large quantities. The use of smuggled pesticides has been increasing sharply, according to Assabah. “They represent 10 to 15 percent of all pesticides used in agriculture,” added the newspaper, who quoted an unidentified source.
Several dysfunctions in the agriculture sector have facilitated the importation and distribution of pesticides. According to Assabah, only 10 of the 300 distributors of the pesticides are approved by ONSSA while the majority of the 1,760 resellers do not meet the regulatory standards stipulated by the 42-95 law related to the control of pesticides and the regulation of the products’ distribution.
A report by the Anti-Poison and Pharmacovigilance Center (CAPM) revealed that 48.6 percent of reported poisoning death in Morocco in 2016 were caused by pesticides.
The report says that the CAPM recorded 16,843 cases of poisoning in 2016, representing an increase of 10.3 percent compared to 2015.
Laayoune-Sakia-El Hamra’s region recorded the highest incidence of deaths by pesticides (119.26 per 100,000 inhabitants), followed by Tangier Tetouan-Al Hoceima (107.4 per 100,000) and Rabat-Salé-Kénitra region (83.6 per 100,000), according to the study’s data.
The high rate of pesticide exposure and poisoning in Morocco is due to direct access to the substance, explained CAPM director Rachida Soulaymani Bencheikh in an interview with Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).