Over 300 workers from the Hindustan Insecticides Limited plant manufacturing Endosulfan near Kochi at Kerala organised a rally today to oppose the unscientific approach adopted by environmental NGOs to seek ban on Endosulfan.
The workers demanded that their own experience and the farmers’ experience be taken into consideration as they work with the pesticide Endosulfan. Endosulfan was manufactured and used for more than 50 years across the world and continues to be in use in many countries without any ill effects to humans or environment. Endosulfan has proved to be harmless to beneficial insects and pollinating agents such as honey bees etc. It is among the top five insecticides in the world. In relation to Endosulfan’s use inside India the workers argued that Endosulfan would have shown its harmful effects elsewhere in India as it is extensively used across the country on crops such as cotton, sugarcane, spices, vegetables, fruits, etc. Millions of Indian farmers have been using Endosulfan for over 35 years and continue to use it as it has been cost effective and safe.
Speaking during the dharna, one of the workers’ representatives pointed out that Kerala had stopped use of Endosulfan in 2002 and it is strange that the harmful effects were brought to light only recently. Endosulfan was sprayed across 10000 acres of Cashew crops throughout Kerala, prior to the ban - had Endosulfan been the cause of physical problems inside Kasargod, the Kerala state should have witnessed similar cases elsewhere as well.
The workers’ representatives added that studies conducted by Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, Achuthan Commission, Kerala Agriculture University, IMA, Dubey Committee have concluded of no linkage between use of Endosulfan and the reports of health problems to the use of Endosulfan on the health problems reported at the Kasargod district of Kerala. All these studies have been conducted as recently as in the last eight years. It is their demand that, rather than ensuing a new study on the pesticide Endosulfan, it will be relevant to seek an independent investigation into the flaws observed in the study which was released by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH).
The NIOH study was adopted by NGOs for propaganda against the generic pesticide Endosulfan since year 2002. To prove this point, the workers demanded that their blood samples be tested to validate against the published findings in NIOH report. The workers also made observations that the campaign against Endosulfan led by environmental NGOs like Thanal is suspect on their motives in the backdrop of studies conducted by other bodies. Based on unscientific approach, the demands made by local NGOs should not be taken into account for considering such a serious decision affecting our country’s agriculture and food security.
There are over 6000 workers employed in the manufacturing of Endosulfan in various plants of India and 400 of these workers are employed in the HIL plant.