India scuttles curb on endosulfan

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Thursday 30 April 2009

Only country to oppose restriction

INDIA again foiled international efforts to restrict trade in endosulfan, a toxic pesticide, by getting it listed in the Rotterdam Convention. The convention, a UN chemicals information treaty, makes it binding for countries to disclose the hazardous nature of chemicals before exporting them to countries with their prior informed consent (pic).

India was the only country to oppose the entry of endosulfan in the list at the fifth pic chemical review committee (crc) meeting held in Rome on March 23-27. Twenty-eight out of 29 members of the crc favoured inclusion of the pesticide in the list. This followed reports from nine African countries saying many cotton farmers fell ill and died after exposure to the chemical.

G K Pandey, adviser to the environment ministry, who represented India, reportedly opposed the listing on technical grounds saying the risk assessment of endosulfan is inadequate. He claimed no one in India suffered after exposure to endosulfan.

Birth deformities and diseases linked to endosulfan spraying on cashew crops have however been reported in India in Kerala's Kasargode district (see 'Lies, damn lies and endosulfan, Down To Earth, April 15, 2004).

"The ministry is influenced by chemicals companies," said Gopal Krishna of international pops (persistent organic pollutants) elimination network. Activists hope crc will get the pesticide listed at the next meeting. "There is a provision allowing crc to base its decision on two-thirds majority failing a consensus," said Krishna.

India had opposed the entry of the pesticide in the pic list in the October 2008 meeting of the crc. It also thwarted a global ban on the pesticide last year when it was to be included in the Stockholm Convention list of pops.

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