Rules on pesticides will get tougher, says health minister
Pesticides, including the controversial weedkiller Roundup, are to get tighter governmental oversight, according to Kim Wilson, the health minister.
The glyphosate-based product, manufactured by the agrochemical firm Monsanto, has come under fire as a potential carcinogen.
Ms Wilson yesterday outlined regulations for pesticides aimed at cutting potential cancer risks from chemical exposure and prevent environmental contamination.
The safety regulations will cover a wide range of chemicals from insecticide to herbicide.
Ms Wilson said the present regime was unwieldy, with two separate ministries — Home Affairs and Health — in charge of pesticides under separate pieces of legislation.
She said the move would provide for “more comprehensive control over things like Roundup as well as bringing all aspects of pesticides under the control of one statute and one ministry”.
Existing regulations would be brought up to date, with improved legislation covering the importation, use, distribution and disposal of pesticides.
Healthcare professionals will be able to renew their credentials online using blockchain technology as the process goes digital, the health minister announced.
The new platform run by the Bermuda Health Council will allow users to store their documents for registration in “a secure electronic or digital wallet”, Kim Wilson said.
It will contain information from credentials and résumés to further education and work history — all controlled by the healthcare professional.
The move will enable them to submit their documents online and pay fees “either through a bank account or through cryptocurrency”, she added.
The current process requires documents to be scanned and printed off.
Ms Wilson said the move would phase out paper, and enable boards to meet virtually and view documents online.
The BHeC’s upgraded website will list online profiles of healthcare businesses with a mapping function for consumers.
Standards of pesticide use would be improved, while the legislation would also address new methods such as “aerial spraying by drone”.
The chemicals will be placed in categories ranging from “general” to restricted and prohibited.
The move will put in place “approved training schemes for pesticide applicators”, with licensing covering “commercial and high-risk application”.
It will also put record-keeping requirements in law for the “importation, sale, use, transport, handling, storage and disposal of pesticides”, with penalties for unlicensed use.
Ms Wilson also said that the Government would embark on data collection and “mapping” to put in place a First 1,000 Days project for enhanced childcare.
She said it would build on last year’s introduction of maternity benefits with improved access to prenatal and antenatal care.
“It involves mapping all the touch points of that first 1000 days, starting with pregnancy,” she said.
“We will map and document the strengths in our programmes and identify the gaps in services, disparities and inequalities with the aim of making recommendations for improving service integration, systems, policies and collaboration to achieve better outcomes.“
Ms Wilson closed by thanking healthcare workers now that the island’s public health emergency for Covid-19 approaches its end.
“We’ve had a tough few years, and we’ve come a long way,” she said.
Emergency powers are set to expire on November 30.
• To read the minister’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.