A Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Prof. David Kofi Essumang of the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cape Coast, has stated, that pesticides have become an inevitable food additive in Ghana.
The eminent chemistry scholar, made the above statement when he delivered his inaugural lecture on the theme An Environment In A “DITCH” at the university.
The lecture highlighted the causes, effects and some management strategies to deal with Ghana’s environmental challenges. Some of the environmental challenges facing the country include waste management, legal and illegal mining, logging deforestation soil, water and air pollution. Others are the destruction of biodiversity, desertification, climate variability and change, mismanagement of chemicals and industrial discharges.
Prof. Essumang described the environment as “everything that makes up our surroundings and affects our ability to live on the earth” and added that it becomes polluted when micro-organisms, chemicals, toxic substances, waste and waste water are introduced into the air and water bodies. “We depend on the environment and the environment depends on us”, he said. “We all need to work together to solve the problem of environmental pollution since we are all at risk”, he declared.
It came to light during the lecture that the use of pesticides has become so pervasive and causing a lot of damage to the environment and food crops such as watermelon and okro sold in the open market.It was revealed that exposure to pesticides could result in Neurological disorders, Parkinson’s diseases, Childhood Leukemia, Lymphoma, Asthma and many more.
Looking at the trend of Pesticides use in Ghana, Prof. Essumang indicated that even though the use of DDT for example has been banned for the past twenty years it was still being used. “DDT existence in the Ghanaian environment shows that manufactures conceal the chemical in their products smuggled through our porous boarders”.
He said research has shown that systemic pesticides get into the plant, saying “When we make the plant itself poisonous to predators, one has to wonder what (or who) else it’s poisoning”. He called for proper inventory of all chemicals used in Ghana since it has been realised that most of them have not been registered.
He lamented the wanton destruction of wetlands in the country by developers without any regard to its consequences to the environment. He said every water flows into water and “God in his wisdom designed the system to be self-cleansing so we have wetlands to sanitise or remove chemicals in the water before it gets into rivers. Wetlands remove heavy metal pollutants by trapping the sediments and holding it”.
Prof. Essumang called for a change in our environmental policy since it lacks direction. “The policy does not have specific indicators that can be measured over a time frame. There is also no indication in the policy showing government commitment towards the attainment of the goals in the document”. He advocated for Environmental education to be incorporated properly in the educational system and also a second look given to mining activities in Ghana.