Sri Lanka agro chemical firms forecast pesticide shortfalls

July 12, 2011 (LBO) – A group of agro firms have warned that Sri Lanka may run short of pesticides for the next growing season unless a controversy over the presence of arsenic is resolved quickly with independent testing. ‘Croplife Sri Lanka’ an industry grouping representing 26 agro chemical firms said arsenic is not an active ingredient in any pesticide marketed by them.

Researchers at Sri Lanka’s Kelaniya University have said that they found arsenic in pesticides, leading to speculation that they may be present in food and also causing diseases.

Indika Gunewardene, representing Croplife Sri Lanka said Sri Lanka’s customs authorities have detained 13 containers of chemicals.

Trace Amounts

However trace amounts have been discovered in one weedicide sold under two brand names and one pesticide by Sri Lanka’s Industrial Technology Institute of Sri Lanka (ITI) after testing 23 different products.

But Rohitha Nanayakkara, a member of the association said the amounts are not high enough to harm humans. There are permitted levels of arsenic even in foods.

But the firms have stopped importing and distributing the chemicals.

Gunewardene says each year Sri Lanka consumers about 7