BELA v. Ministry of Agriculture and others, Writ Petition No. 14614 of 2019 (High Court Division of the Supreme Court) (5 January 2020)

Toxic Substances

Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Assoc. v. Ministry of Agriculture and others, Writ Petition No. 14614 of 2019 (5 January 2020)
Supreme Court of Bangladesh – High Court Division

Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) petitioned the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court) seeking orders to compel agriculture, health, and environmental ministries to: effectively regulate pesticide use; cancel the registration and licenses of glyphosate-based pesticides; promote use of safe alternatives to glyphosate-based pesticides; and study the health impacts associated with use of glyphosate-based pesticides.  The petition also called on the Ministry of Agriculture to investigate deaths associated with exposure to glyphosate-based pesticides and provide compensation to affected families, and to set up an independent commission to monitor the health, safety, and environmental impacts of pesticide use in Bangladesh. 

The High Court issued a Rule Nisi “calling upon respondents to show cause as to i) why they should not be directed to set up a regular and independent commission to monitor the health safety and environmental aspects of use of pesticides and to ensure adoption of a appropriate, prohibitive, correction and regulatory measures and protocols, cancel registrations and licenses of all Glyphosate containing pesticides and ii) why the registration given by the respondents to all pesticides containing Glyphosate including Roundup, the granting of renewal of the same and the failure of respondents to cancel the same being violative of applicable laws – should not be declared unlawful and against public interest and/or pass such other or further order or orders as to this Court may seem fit and proper.” Order, pp. 3-4. The High Court directed the respondents to respond within eight weeks.  Id.

In addition, the High Court ordered the ministries to undertake immediate efforts to broadly inform the public through print and electronic media of the hazardous effects of using glyphosate-based pesticides. Id., p. 4.

Finally, the High Court granted the ministries 90 days to prepare and submit a report containing detailed information on the extent of glyphosate-based pesticide imports/stocking/marketing/use in Bangladesh, a health assessment of individuals exposed to glyphosate-based pesticides over long periods of time (such as those who work in tea estates and sugar cane fields), and an action plan for phasing out glyphosate-based pesticides and introducing safe alternatives. Id, p. 4.