India still in endosulfan denial

International review committee pushes for global ban

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Monday 15 November 2010

INDIA failed Kasaragod again. Despite letters to the Centre from Kerala chief minister and forest minister pleading that India support the global ban on endosulfan, industry lobbyists continue to hold sway at international forums.

In 2003, several families in Kasaragod district of Kerala were found victims of aerial spraying of endosulfan pesticide in cashew plantations.

At the sixth meeting of Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to the Stockholm Convention, India opposed a global ban on the manufacture, use, import and export of endosulfan. The committee met in Geneva from October 11 to 15. Of the 29 members in the review committee, 24 supported the ban and four (Germany, Ghana, Nigeria and China) abstained.

Despite India’s opposition, the committee adopted a risk management evaluation and recommended a ban to the Conference of Parties (COP) of Stockholm Convention scheduled to meet in April 2011.

Endosulfan, an organochlorine compound, used as insecticide is an endocrine disruptor and a neurotoxin. Seventy-three countries have phased out or banned endosulfan; Australia was the latest to ban it on October 12. India opposed the ban citing economic losses. The endosulfan industry in India is pegged at US $100 million.

“Negotiators said farmers could not be trained to use other insecticides and that most states were dependent on endosulfan. On the contrary, many states have switched to organic farming and are doing well,” said C Jayakumar, member of Thanal, a non-profit in Kerala working with endosulfan victims. He was an observer at the POPRC.

Observers say a ban was possible at POPRC as it was a scientific committee. The COP is a political forum and decision is taken through consensus. India is likely to stick to its stand and impede consensus. But the rate at which countries are banning endosulfan, India could be the only one producing and using it.

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