The killer pesticide Endosulfan is in news again. With `1,300-crore market in the country, Endosulfan has been facing the wrath of environmentalists and NGOs who are demanding a ban on the pesticide. But a trade body representing pesticide manufacturers has opposed the ban, saying the chemical was not responsible for the deaths it is accused of.
The Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) on Friday said Endosulfan was not responsible for the deaths and sufferings of people in Kerala’s Kasaragod. Talking to the media here, president of PMFAI Pradeep Dave alleged the environmental groups campaigning against Endosulfan were funded by the multinationals in Europe who wanted to ensure a ban on the affordable and generic pesticide to push their patented and expensive alternatives.
However, he said several expert committees were set up by the Union Government and all of them concluded that there was ‘no link established’ between Endosulfan and the alleged reports of health problems in Kasargod. Dave blamed the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) study, which was the root cause of demand for ban on Endosulfan, but it contained “unscientific and implausible” aspects.
He said, “Endosulfan was cheap at `250 a litre compared to the cost of patented alternatives that ranged from `2,000 to `8,000 a litre.”
However, India produces over 80 per cent of global production and uses 12 million litre of this pesticide. It also exported 18 million litres of this pesticide last year.
In a related development, MP and environmentalist Maneka Gandhi has urged all the State Governments to ban the pesticide. She said recently at Hubli that the use of Endosulfan has proved fatal in many cases. “It is causing huge damage to soil fertility and crops, besides severely affecting the health of people who consume crops sprayed with endosulfan,” she remarked.
SK Handa, fellow of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said as per international norms prescribed by the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR), it was mandatory for residues to be reported as identified only after performing ‘confirmatory test of each sample’.
“Endosulfan cannot be blamed for diseases in Kerala. It is due to other reasons. Genetic variations in certain groups of people in Kerala could be responsible for these diseases. There are such health problems reported in other parts of Kerala where Endosulfan is not used,’” he claimed.
However, R Hariharan, chairman of Washington-based International Stewardship Centre, said the proposed listing of Endosulfan as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) was to serve European trade interest. “If generics are banned through regulatory mechanisms it becomes easier for patented molecules to expand their market share. These contentions are being exploited by the vested interest,” he alleged.