Prime Minister of Kenya urged to ban lion-killing pesticide after child dies from ingestion
November 10, 2009
On Monday October 26th a three-year-old girl mistakenly ate the pesticide Furadan (also known as carbofuran) in western Kenya. Her father, a teacher at a primary school, said that he had no knowledge of how dangerous the pesticide was, which he had purchased to kill pests in his vegetable garden.
This tragedy comes after the conservation organization WildlifeDirect has campaigned for two years for Furadan to be banned in Kenya. The pesticide, which is a potent neurotoxin, has been used to kill dozens of Kenya's lions and millions of birds both of which are considered pests to farmers and pastoralists. Now WildlifDirect is going directly to Prime Minister Ranila Odinga for support in the ban. Odinga recently adopted a lion under the Kenya Wildlife Service's (KWS) Wildlife Endowment Fund.
"The Prime Minister did well to adopt that young lion cub, but now is the time for him to lead in a much more significant action to save lions - declare them an endangered species in Kenya and enforce a total ban on carbofurans" says Dr Richard Leakey, chairman of WildlifeDirect and legendary conservationist in Africa.
According to scientists and KWS the pesticide has killed at least 76 lions in the last five years, as well as over 300 vultures and other birds by the 'truckloads'. Recently KWS has admitted that due to drastic declines in lions, Kenya may lose all of its 'kings of the jungle' in twenty years.
Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States has determined that carbofuran (Furadan is the brand name) is too dangerous for American consumers. Beginning at the end of the year any use of carbofuran in the USA will become a criminal offense.
"If the pesticide is not safe for use in the US or Europe, where pesticide users are more informed, why would we think that the pesticide is safe for use in Africa?" asks Leakey. "It is immoral to sell a pesticide as dangerous as carbofuran in Africa."
Most farmers in Kenya are uneducated and Furadan packages do not even sport the universal skull-and-crossbones symbol denoting that the pesticide is lethal. In addition, Furadan is often repackaged in Kenya in unmarked packets that contain no user instructions.
Carbofuran is manufactured in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Farm Machinery and Chemicals (FMC).
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