Colombo - A Buddhist monk led hundreds of protestors Thursday to campaign against the use of pesticides in Sri Lanka after fresh scientific research revealed that waterways were contaminated with arsenic, which can cause kidney failure.
The monk, Ven Athureliya Rathana, who is also a parliamentarian, led a march from parliament to a temple in the south of the country to perform rituals against those promoting pesticides. 'Our protest is also aimed at creating awareness about the dangers of use of pesticides', Ven Rathana said.The protest came after a group of academics said they had found irrigation canals contaminated with arsenic, as well as people suffering from arsenic poisoning.
The Sri Lankan government offers fertilizer at a subsidized rate to farmers, but the useage of pesticides and chemicals are also on the increase. Researcher Chann Jayasumna said that as many as 20,000 patients suspected to be suffering from pesticide poisoning are undergoing treatment at state-run hospitals. He said many of them are farmers.