Published: Sunday 15 April 2001

The Cochin-based directorate of cashewnut and cocoa development has asked all cashew corporations in Kerala to stop aerial spraying of the endosulfan pesticide. The directions were given following the publication of data, which proved that the continuous spraying of endosulfan by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) at Padre village of Kasaragod district has led to severe health problems among the local people ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 19, February 28, 2001). The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, conducted laboratory tests, which linked the health problems with the spraying.

In a letter to Down To Earth , the managing director of PCK stated that CSE "could have collected the samples in the presence of representatives of the corporation". He added: "We may take fresh samples and the same can be tested in different reputed testing centres. We want to reiterate that being a state government undertaking we are much more concerned about the health of the local people." The PCK has decided to commission another laboratory -- Fredrick Institute of Plant Protection and Toxicology, Chennai -- to test the samples. A commission constituted by the Kerala Agricultural University also visited the village. "We have recommended an immediate ban on aerial spraying as stipulations necessary for aerial spraying cannot be followed in the area," says Sreekumar, an assistant professor of entomology at the university. State health officials also visited the village but they were not allowed to collect any samples. "We did not allow them to collect the samples as the PCK officials showed no courtesy of coming and visiting the victims of their carelessness. The officials went to the PCK office at Padre. We don't know what happened next," says Srikrishna "Shree" Padre, a farmer and journalist.

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