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Kenya: Experts warn over continued use of weed killers linked to cancer

"Experts warn over continued use of weed killers linked to cancer"

Kenyan agronomists and coffee marketing agents have raised the red flag over the use of a weed killer suspected to cause cancer. The two parties say 2,4-D and Bayer’s Roundup, which are used to eliminate weeds in coffee, tea and sugarcane among other crops, are harmful to human health. “The country risks losing international market for some of its cash crops due to continued use of such herbicides like 2,4-D and Roundup believed to cause life threatening diseases like cancer,” cautioned Kamau Kuria, Managing Director, Coffee Management Services Mills.

Countries such as the US, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, he said, have warned against importation of crops in which such banned herbicides have been used to control weeds. “It is vital for farmers to use herbicides approved by the pesticides control board and where necessary take soil samples to the Kenya Plant and health Inspectorate services to determine whether it has been contaminated by the herbicides,” said Mr Kuria...

...[However] agronomist George Otieno of Agri-Tech firm...argues that the herbicide has no health effects so long as one observes the specified instructions when using it. “The herbicide has been in the market for decades and I have never heard of anyone who has developed respiratory, skin or any other health problem as a result of use of this chemical,” said Mr Otieno. He however admits that some livestock have died after feeding on silage or grass sprayed with Roundup. “I have witnessed situations where some farmers have lost their livestock after feeding on grass contaminated with Roundup. But that is as a result of negligence and farmers need to protect areas sprayed with the chemical,” said Mr Otieno.