Some commissioners for agriculture have called on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ban the use of paraquat for weed control in the country.
Paraquat is a chemical herbicide or weed killer that is highly toxic and used all over the world. It is also known by the brand name, Gramoxone.
The call came at the end of a meeting held at the International Institute of tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan in a communiqué on Tuesday.
The theme of the meeting was “Digital Tools: Disruptive Innovations in Cassava/maize Farming Systems.’’
According to the communiqué, the stakeholders said the health and environmental concerns raised by weed scientists about paraquat were too grave to be ignored.
They remarked that a report by a weed scientist at the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Udensi Udensi, titled: “The Rural Appraisal on the Use of Paraquat in Nigeria,” described paraquat as one of the most highly acute toxic herbicides being marketed in the last 60 years.
“Udensi said that paraquat remained one of the pesticides responsible for more fatal poisonings than any other pesticide substances.
“Workers who are exposed to paraquat over a long period have been found to be at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life,” they said.
They emphasised that another study by Steve Weller, a retired professor of the Purdue University, US, and Charles Riches, a weed scientist and agronomist with Agherba Consultants, corroborated Udensi’s position.
They added that the studies stated that the negative effects of paraquat on humans and potential for short and long term negative effects on human health were overwhelmingly strong.
“Even Dr Bukar Usmana, a director with the NAFDAC, had said that paraquat had been banned in several countries, so we cannot continue to allow it to come into Nigeria,” they said.