- Endosulfan is a chemical pesticide.
- India is the world’s largest user of endosulfan and major producer of it.
- In 2001, Kerala’s Kasaragod, endosulfan spraying became suspect when linked to a series of abnormalities noted in local children.
- Currently it is banned in Kerala and Karnataka.
- Slamming the Central government’s stand on the use of toxic pesticide endosulfan as leading to “a grave violation of human rights”, the National Human Rights Commission in its recent report has called for a nationwide ban. India should also agree to a global ban, said the Commission, which also recommended higher compensation for victims.
- At the international level, India was the only nation that voted against a worldwide ban on endosulfan at the last review meeting of the Stockholm Convention in October 2010.
THE ENDOSULFAN CONTROVERSY
A deliberate plan is done to ban Endosulfan with vested interest by MNC pesticide companies.
PESTICIDE USE SCENARIO IN INDIA
- Scientists in agricultural universities have very little knowledge about the pesticides which is actually used in field, by the Indian Farmers as the syllabus is outdated and they get satisfied with the theoretical knowledge they have.
- Many of the research done also is mostly on the off-beaten track.
- Toxicology studies also hence were limited to few pesticides.
- The cost and quality differs with companies, MNC usually charging higher for their product while the product by a local manufacturer costs cheap. The same is the case with Endosulfan.
- These two Monocrotophos and Endosulfan ( brand names –Endocel, Thiosulfan etc) is the most commonly used pesticides and will be there even in the rack of a very small dealer shop in a very remote village. While Monocrotophos belong to Organophosporus group of pesticides and is Systemic in nature (will be absorbed into the system of plants and insects) and Endosulfan is a Organochlorine Pesticide which is a Contact Pesticide (cause death of the insect which comes in contact with it).
- Endosulfan is widely used for spraying in vegetable crops like Brinjal, Chillies, Bhendi tomato, etc and also to control pests in horticultural tree crops especially Mango and Cashew.
- In Tamilnadu, it is widely used to control Tea Mosquito bug menace in Mango and Cashew, apart from its widespread usuage to vegetables (and this is the scenario with respect to other states in India). Typically it is sprayed once or twice to crops especially when mango and cashew starts blooming.
- . Endosulfan is very effective in controlling the pest and increase yield by preventing flower and bud drop in Mango and Cashew. The vegetables which are consumed daily by Indian people gets alteast a spray of Endosulfan.
- If the pest damage is severe, the farmers go for still toxic pesticide and a for a mixture of pesticides and fungicides.
- Endosulfan is practically used by every farmer. Also there are many chemicals which are very toxic than Endosulfan.
Why a single pesticide alone has become a target?
If usage of pesticide and its toxicity is such a big concern, why there is no talk about other pesticides which are more toxic than Endosulfan and which have more bio-durable and bio-accumulating properties than endosulfan?
ENDOSULFAN CONTROVERSY IN KERALA
It reported that the aerial spraying of Endosulfan in the Cashew plantations owned by Planatation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) in the Kasorgode District of Kerala (spread over 3550 ha in three different plantations) has resulted in severe health hazards to people living in villages near the Plantations . The health hazards ranged from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, mental retardation, psychic problems, alterations in reproductive organs, disability due to disfigurement of arms and limbs, cancer, hormone problems and infertility problems. The CSE also reported that its research findings showed high level of Endosulfan in natural resources and in bodies of affected human beings.
- Ban aerial spraying of pesticides in all the cashew plantations In Kasaragod District.
- Use of endosulfan in Kasaragod District should be frozen for 5 years.
- In the other plantations of PCK in Kasaragod district, need based ground spraying, (manual or power-operated) of pesticides other than endosulfan may be resorted to, in consultation with research organizations.
- The pesticide management and plant protection should be scientifically organized.
- Research efforts to evolve integrated pest management (IPM) should be augmented.
- Breeding programme to develop cashew strains resistant to tea-mosquito bug should be undertaken.
- Since the cause of the human health problem could not be deduce conclusively, a detailed investigation involving scientists from all relate fields should be conducted to identify the risk factors for the high morbidity the Padre village and other affected areas. A detailed health survey should be conducted in the Padre village and other areas from which cases of abno health problems are reported. The health survey should cover the plantation workers also.
- Since most of the people who complain about health problems are from poorer sections of the community, the Government should make arrangemen to provide special medical care to these persons.
- The Government should take all steps to implement these recommendatio and dispel the fears regarding pesticide application.
- The right to information of the use of pesticides should be respected. The Gram Panchayaths should be given all details, when requested. The apprehensions of the local people regarding the alleged pesticide problem should be cleared by awareness programmes conducted through PCK, Agricultural Department and Research Institutions.
MY PERSONAL INFERENCE
All the findings point to one basic fact. The aerial spraying of endosuplhan without taking precautionary measures is the root cause of the problem and not the chemical endosulfan as such
- The myths and facts about Endosulfan
- 1: Endosulfan is a highly hazardous pesticide
- Truth: Endosulfan is listed under class II ( Moderatly hazardous pesticide) by the World Health Organization and their bottle comes with yellow label. There are other highly hazardous pesticides that comes with red label to the Indian market and they are in continuous use in the country. No word is raised against them.
- 2 Endosulfan is a typical Organo chlorine Pesticide
- Truth: It is not a typical organo chlorine pesticide unlike DDT and BHC. Even the gamma isomer of BHC is available in the market. Endosulfan is the Sulfurous ester of a Chlorinated Cyclic diol
- 3 Exposure to Endosulfan caused birth defects
- Truth: Various reports on its genotoxic activity, mutagenecity and Clastogenecity has so far not shown any conclusive evidence of it.
- 4 Endosulfan Bioaccumulates in human bodies.
- Truth: Studies have shown that endosulfan had relatively lesser affinity towards lipids. Their bioaccumulation and biomagnifications is much lesser than other Organo chlorine pesticides and Class I pesticides (THE EFSA Journal 2005, 23,1-31
- 5 Endosulfan causes Cancer
- Truth: Endosulfan is not found to be carcinogenic through various research studies (IPCS,1998 a).
- 6 Endosulfan persists for long in environment
- Truth: Studies have shown that degradation of endosulfan is rather faster in tropical and subtropical climates)
Besides this endosulfan is found to be good to honey bees causing them very less or low damage.
So where lies the truth? Do not believe what you see and hear. Even researches today are done with results in mind.
- If endosufan is usage is so widespread in India, why the problem occurs only in India. When you look at the raw data of fertilizer sales, the union territory of Pondicherry will show high consumption of fertilizers/acre of land. But the truth is, 70 % of this is used in agricultural lands of Tamilnadu
- 2011, suddenly India agrees to compromise on global ban on endofulfan, the support however is with respect to working our suitable exemptions and alternatives. In order to gain Indias agreement exemtion was agreed for 14 more crops (totally 22 crops) for a period of five years, during which financial assistance is also assured during the Stockholm conference. The pressure is created on the Indian government both from outside and inside, so that the European Union can achieve what they intend to achieve.
What will happen if Endosulfan is banned?
- The farmers are not going to stop pesticide spraying to vegetables, mango or cashew. Endosulfan will be replaced conveniently and easily by pesticides manufactured by MNC companies not only in India, but also worldwide. The present alternatives to endosulfan where priced 5 to 10 times higher than endosulfan. While Endosulfan costs just around Rs300/litre, the alternatives costs Rs2000 to Rs13000/litre.
- The market share will be captured easily by them without much effort to convince farmers.This will go as a cycle. Some other pesticide will become a target in a span of few years, again such a hype will be created and the hidden agenda of MNC companies will be achieved.
- It took note of reports of severe health problems, like physical deformities, caused by aerial spraying of endosulfan in cashew plantations in the state’s Dakshin Kannada district.
- Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation, 32,604 litres of endosulfan was aerially sprayed between 1980 and 2000 on 850 hectares in Belthangady and Puttur taluks in Dakshin Kannada. In addition, 11,225 litres were sprayed manually. The spraying affected nearly 20 villages. “Health conditions in these villages are scary.
- People are suffering from problems like congenital deformities, mental retardation and physical deformities,” said Acharya. “The impact is similar to those affected in Kerala’s Kasaragod village.”
Issue in karnataka
- Inclusion of those suffering from impotency and cancer among others in the list of endosulfan victims, adequate compensation, quick disbursement of monthly stipend, free health care and drugs for psychiatric patients were their important demands.
- Kerala Model Not Approved by GovtThe district administration which had kept insisting that stipend had been disbursed to all endosulfan victims had made a u-turn by acknowledging that 199 sufferers were yet to receive stipend.
- A proposal to release compensation of `5 lakh, as on the lines of Kerala package, for endosulfan sufferers was not approved by the government.
- A proposal on building a permanent centre for them is pending before government. Besides, two mobile health care units, 10 hospitals empanelled by the district administration were providing cashless treatment, claimed.
THE STOCKHOLM CONVENTION AND BAN ON ENDOSULFAN
- In the Stockholm Convention held in Geneva, recently on 29th April,2011, Endosulfan is defined as Persistent organic Pollutant: it is persistant in the environment, bioaccumulative, demonstrates long range environmental transport and causes adverse health to human and environment. Thus Endosulfan is listed as a POP in the convention, as Long-range Transboundary Air pollutant (LRTAP) and is recognized as a Persistent Toxic substance by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
- Reports and studies of European union says that Endosulfan is found extensively in global water resources and as a contaminant in human breast milk ( samples from women in Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Pakisthan and in Umbilical cord blood samples.
- According to the US EPA, “Monitoring data and incident reports confirm that endosulfan is moving through aquatic and terrestrial food chains and that its use has resulted in adverse effects on the environment adjacent to and distant from its registered use sites”.
- Exemptions will be available for application of endosulfan against 44 pests in 22 crops — cotton, jute, coffee, tea, tobacco, cowpeas, beans, tomato, okra, eggplant, onion, potato, chillies, apple, mango, gram, arhar, maize, paddy/rice, wheat, groundnuts and mustard. The pests include aphids in most of the exempted crops, bollworms, jassids, whiteflies, thrips and leafroller in cotton, Bihar hairy caterpillar and yellow mites in jute and berry borer and stem borer in coffee. For tea, application of endosulfan is allowed for a host of pests including caterpillars and tea mosquitoes. Endosulfan will be allowed to be used against hopper and fruit fillies in mango and several pests in tomato. In rice, use will be permitted against white jassids, stem borer, gall midge and rice hispa and in wheat against termites and pink borer, besides aphids.