On 5th October, the BBC reported that at least 50 farmers have died in the western state of Mharashtra, India, since July, due to suspected accidental pesticide poisoning (see the full article on the BBC website).
Nineteen of these deaths were reported from Yavatmal district, a major cotton growing area, where farmers use a variety of cotton which is meant to be resistant to bollworms. However, this year, despite use of this variety, crop damage caused by bollworm has been highly significant, leading to an increase in the use of pesticides.
Judges in France are now considering an appropriate punishment for one organic winemaker who has refused to spray his vines with pesticides. Without spraying, they say he could be contributing to further infestation of the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus in the region. As the Guardian in the UK reports, Emmanuel Giboulot now faces a 6-month prison sentence and a €30,000 fine for failing to apply insecticide. His justification for refusing, he says, is that chemical measures are both ineffective at managing the pest, which can carry flavescence dorée disease, and damaging to pollinating insects such as bees. Instead, he insists the disease can be managed by more natural means. Over 41,000 people have signed a petition in his defense.