Corrupt officials make fight against CKD difficult – GMOA


 By Don Asoka Wijewardena

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya yesterday alleged that the Pesticides Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) under the purview of the Agriculture Ministry authorised the importation of deadly agrochemicals.

 Dr. Padeniya pointed out that the Registrar of Pesticides was the Secretary of the PTAC which had to evaluate various kinds of agrochemicals. It was difficult to deal with the fast spreading Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) unless the officials attached to the PTAC acted impartially to ban all toxic agrochemicals. The GMOA had information that some officials were looked after by multinational agrochemical companies , Dr. Padeniya said.

The ban on deadly agrochemicals would not yield the desired results so long as the officials attached to the PTAC allowed agrochemical imp-orts injurious to people’s health.

The agrochemical companies were required to submit samples of their products together with necessary information to the PTAC for registration, recommendations and import licences, the GMOA President said.

It has been scientifically proved that many agrochemicals contaminated water sources and the people who used them for drinking contracted the killer kidney disease.

 The Presidential Task Force for the Prevention of Kidney Disease Director Dr. Channa Jayasumna said that almost all the agrochemical companies contracted retired professionals to write articles in favour of them. It was high time for the government to investigate the technical evaluation process of the PTAC, which was solely responsible for recommending and issuing import licences to the agrochemical companies, he said.

Presidential Co-ordinator for the Wanni District Premaratne Sumathipala said that he would meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa shortly and request him to appoint a committee to investigate the technical evaluation process of the PTAC. The CKD could not be eliminated as long as the PTAC approved whatever agrochemical samples submitted to it by the multinational companies for importation.

 CIC General Manager Agrochemicals Indika Gunawardena denied the allegations leveled against his company., which, he said, never hired any officials to write articles promoting agrochemicals. The company always abided by the PTAC guidelines and submitted samples for technical evaluation. If the PTAC approved the samples submitted it would obtain the import licence, he maintained.

Lankem General Manager Agrochemicals Nishantha Jayamanna, too, dismissed the allegations levelled against agrochemical importers. He said his company submitted all information about agrochemicals to the PTAC for recommendation. The PTAC would go through the toxic effects, pre-harvesting trials, the amounts to be used of the agrochemicals. It was a sensitive process. Once the PTAC approved the samples the company would obtain the import licence.

Registrar of Pesticides Anura Wijesekera, contacted for comment, said that any agrochemical company which wanted to import agrochemicals had to register with the PTAC which evaluated the products submitted by the companies scientifically. There were some allegations against the PTAC which also comprised many doctors. "I am the Secretary of the PTAC which is responsible for registering agrochemical companies. When an agrochemical company complies with the guidelines set by us I issue it with an import licence."

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