Shetkari Sanghatana founder and former Rajya Sabha member Sharad Joshi has charged multi-national companies with hatching a scheme against Endosulphan, the pesticide which is very popular among farmers due to its broad spectrum of application and affordability.
Joshi told the media on Wednesday that the multinational pesticide companies, which championed Endosulphan for many decades, have developed newer molecules which offer better margins for them. So they are making attempts to have Endosulphan banned everywhere so that they can push the more profitable products.
“Of the 60 nations which have banned Endosulphan, 27 are from the European Union and 21 belong to Africa who have substantial trade with Europe,” Joshi said. “The issue achieves significance considering that India is the largest producer of this pesticide with 70 per cent of world share and exports it to many countries,” he added.
Joshi criticised the Kerala government’s recent notification, which says that sale of pesticides is illegal in the state unless supported by a prescription from an appropriate agricultural officer. “The underlying purpose of this notification is to restrict use of Endosulfan which is being blamed for certain incidents of congenital abnormalities, cancers and certain other diseases. But various expert committees, including the Dubey committee and the Mahi committee appointed by the central government, have concluded that there is no established causal relationship between Endosufan and these health issues.”
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar also has made a statement in the house, during the recent session of the Lok Sabha, that there is no evidence of Endosulfan having caused any health problems and India will support use of the pesticide, Joshi said.
The timing of the notification by the Kerala government is significant as the Indian government has said that it will take a stand against declaring Endosulfan a persistent organic pollutant at the Stockholm Convention in April 2011, which is going to debate the issue, Joshi said.
“Banning Endosulfan will harm production of pulses and fruits which are important for nutrition of India’s huge population,” Joshi warned. “Endosulphan is in use in India for 40 years and has been extremely helpful in containing pests in the area of horticulture and pulses. It is soft on pollinators such as honeybees and other beneficial insects.”
The cost of spreading Endosulfan in one acre of land is Rs 250-300 against Rs 900-3,000 for other pesticides introduced by the MNCs. Also, Endosulfan is a broad spectrum pesticide and is effective for many crops as compared to other products that are directed at individual crops, Joshi added.