Shame Pesticide Offenders, MKs Urged

Publication of the names of farmers who persistently use illegal pesticides and tougher sanctions against offenders are two of the recommendations to be presented tomorrow to the Knesset Interior and Environmental Protection Committee.

They are part of findings by a public panel headed by former Supreme Court justice Yaakov Turkel, which has been tasked with finding ways to reduce pesticide damage.

The panel says that it is currently hard to enforce the law against users of illegal pesticides and so publicly naming offenders could deter them. The committee also recommends that fines be imposed regardless of the outcome of criminal proceedings against alleged transgressors.

Due to the difficulty of proving a link between traces of poison and a farmer believed to have applied it, the panel proposes that farmers be held accountable for any toxic material found in their fields.

The committee also suggests that the offense of using banned pesticides be reclassified under law so that more severe penaltys can be imposed.

Experts on the committee said that insufficient information is available in Israel for a proper assessment of the risks of a particular pesticide or the extent of its use.

One reason is that existing law does not allow the state to demand such information from manufacturers, importers or distributors.

The committee also said that unlike in other countries, tests on new pesticides in Israeli are made in the field and not under laboratory conditions and do not include studies of their impact on wild plants and animals.