Herbicides/Pesticides and Cancer A survey.

Background and Aims

The use of herbicides and pesticides by small hold farmers in Indonesia is apparently extensive and not well controlled. Studies on residues of herbicides and pesticides on fruits and vegetables are rare and so are surveys to investigate diseases like cancer with the use of herbicides and pesticides.

It has to be emphasised that in countries with strict regulations, professional management and proper training of farmers there are no correlations between herbicide/pesticide use and diseases while in other countries such correlations probably exist.

The IGN has started a small scale pilot project to investigate potential correlations in different regions. The project is based on a survey for farmers to document their application of herbicides/pesticides and a survey in regional hospitals to document cases of cancer in farmers and unrelated professional groups.



Three types of questionnaires will be set up: one for farmers, one for hospitals and one for local doctors. Where applicable (probably Malang and Jember), separate surveys will be carried out among conventional farmers and those working in regions with “organic farming” (limited or no use of herbicides/pesticides).

Participating groups interview the three target groups on site and compile the data.

Data evaluation will be done jointly by all participating groups.



Participants in this project have been recruited by advertisement among IGN members. Two groups of non-members have been accepted (see below). These partners agree to the IGN rules, in particular mutual collaboration, exchange of data and, if applicable, joint publication.

Groups consist of at least two students and a faculty supervisor.


  1. Brawijaya University
  2. Jember University
  3. Airlangga University
  4. Muhammadiyah University of Ponorogo (no IGN member)
  5. Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry (TUAF), Thai Nguyen City, Vietnam (no IGN member)

Future perspectives

If the project is carried out successfully, a small publication of the joint results may be possible.

If correlations are found, the project may be extended in various directions:

  1. a) Carry out a more comprehensive and more detailed study to verify the data.
  2. b) Investigate herbicide/pesticide content in body fluids of farmers (blood, urine).
  3. c) Investigate herbicide/pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.
  4. d) Initiate training programs for farmers to improve safety measures and intelligent use of herbicides/pesticides (possibly with the support from the respective industry).

Project progress as of Dec. 31st, 2015

The questionnaires have been set up in English. Questionnaire for farmers has been translated to Bahasa Indonesia. Translation of the other questionnaires is in progress.

Interviews will begin in January 2016.