Driven by trade interest, EU is pushing Endosulfan for POP listing
Elimination of Endosulfan is expected to severely impact pollination and India’s farming
India is today the second largest producer of horticulture crops (fruits at vegetables) and annually produces over 215 million mt (2008-09 figures source Ministry of Agriculture). This is almost as much as India’s total food grain production of 235 million mt (2008-09 figures source Ministry. of Agriculture). India’s export of fresh fruits and vegetables was Rs 3659 crores during 2008-09 (source APEDA). India ranks fifth in the world in cropped area under cultivation and production of potatoes. India produces 40% of world’s mangoes, 26% bananas, 18% cashew nuts, 28% green peas and 12% onion.
Endosulfan is a plant protection chemical used by farmers for more than 55 years to control pests during the early phase of cultivation and particularly during pollination. It is widely used by farmers in India as a broad spectrum insecticide soft on pollinators and beneficial insects. Besides cross pollinating our food crops, Honey bees are vital links that forge the bio diversity of the environment.
Endosulfan is used extensively in cultivation of fruits and vegetables. Today India is the largest producer of Endosulfan and accounts for over 70% of the global trade of this product. The European Union is pushing the Stockholm Convention to bring about a global ban on Endosulfan by spearheading a campaign to list Endosulfan as a Persistent Organic Pollutant. All decisions taken against Endosulfan at the Stockholm Convention have been without consensus and in spite of lack of full scientific certainty and significant data gaps.
While considering the EU proposal to list Endosulfan there were serious procedural lapses:
- The text of the convention, their articles and rules were not followed
- The process was not transparent
- There was conflict of interest as European Union the notifying party for Endosulfan also prepared the risk profile
- The proposals to recommend Endosulfan lacked scientific merit and decisions were taken despite significant data gaps.
- India’s protest and dissent notes were ignored and all the decisions relating to Endosulfan were taken by voting in spite of serious objections from India, China, Argentina and other countries.
The European Union (EU) is pushing India and the global community to stop use of Endosulfan as it has proposed listing of Endosulfan as a persistent organic pollutant, in spite of lacking full scientific certainty. If Endosulfan is banned farmers will need to find replacements and will be forced to use expensive patented and proprietary molecules produced by European multinationals. Farmers in India will be forced to use alternatives like neonicotinoids in spite of it being banned in parts of Europe.
To create a climate for ban on Endosulfan in India, the EU funded lobby of environmental NGO’s has generated various studies and surveys to link Endosulfan to incidences of human health effects and have stigmatized Endosulfan by unleashing a false propaganda against Endosulfan in the media.
World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have all classified that Endosulfan does not cause cancer, is not genotoxic or mutagenic.
Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) held a Press Conference in an effort to support India’s position on Endosulfan at The Stockholm Convention and invited Mr R Hariharan, Chairman International Stewardship Centre (ISC), an observer at The Stockholm Convention and Mr Anil Kakkar, Director Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) to share their experiences.
Shri Pradip Dave, President of Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI), expresses fear that “India’s Food Security would be at stake if the use of Endosulfan is banned.” An industry issue, it is gaining more ground as a political issue, where facts or fundamentals have no considerations. Under any circumstances, if the Government bans the use of Endosulfan in the country, the farming community and the country’s food security will be adversely affected, he added.
With the growing population of India and to meet the basic needs of the masses, it is becoming essentially vital and important that agricultural production keep pace with the increase in population. This is the only way to feed more than billions people without being dependent on imports.
A very few plant protection products actually qualify for Integrated Crop Management system, Endosulfan is one such product which is not only effective in controlling pests but also helps in improving the productivity of crops/plants without being harsh on the environment.
Shri Hariharan, Chairman of International Stewardship Centre (ISC) said that “Currently, the worldwide usage of Endosulfan is estimated at 40 million litres, which makes it one of world’s top five generic agricultural insecticides. The trade in Endosulfan today is in excess of US$ 300 million (Rs 1350 crores) and its replacement value is estimated to be in excess of US$ 1000 million (Rs 4500 crores).
Endosulfan’s popularity as a broad spectrum generic insecticide soft on pollinators and beneficial insects has resulted in its safe use for over 55 years. Today India is the largest producer of Endosulfan and accounts for over 70% of the global trade in Endosulfan. As a result it’s caught in a cross fire in a battle between “generic” insecticides produced by Indian companies vs. “patented” insecticides produced by European multinationals”.
Shri Anil Kakkar, Director of Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), further added that “Endosulfan is one of the most widely used pesticides in India. Indian farmers have been relying on Endosulfan to protect their crops since several years. The climatic conditions and the pest complex in India are very different that Europe and the use of products like Endosulfan are well suited for tropical countries like India.
Banning the use of Endosulfan can impose serious threat to pollination and on its resultant effect on our food security. Replacing Endosulfan with other patented costly plant protection products will increase the cost of pest management for Indian farming community, which may increase food prices and aggravate inflationary pressure”.