It is not the reason behind health problems in Kasaragod, Kerala

Maintaining that Endosulfan is unlikely to cause any public health concern or hazard, the Centre has urged the Supreme Court to lift the ban imposed on its production and sale in May this year.

In its response to a petition filed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India, the Centre said that long-term use of the pesticidewas unlikely to present public health concern. The Centre made it clear that Endosulfan was not the reason behind health problems in Kasaragod in Kerala.

On May 13, the court, while banning its use all over India, directed the statutory authorities to freeze the production licences granted to the manufacturers of Endosulfan till further orders. The Court also formed an expert committee to go into all aspects of Endosulfan and asked the Centre to submit a report.

Enclosing the report, the Centre, in its affidavit, said: “There is an overall weight of evidence from in-vitro and in-vivo screening tests that Endosulfan is not an endocrine disruptor. It is reported that Endosulfan is either carcinogenic or mutagenic. There is no evidence to suggest that Endosulfan bioaccumulates.”

Further “it is noteworthy that a number of countries that have banned this chemical have done so as a precautionary measure due to suspected long-term effects on human health. Use of Endosulfan has been put on hold in Kerala also as a precautionary measure. The tragedy in Kasaragod was due to aerial spraying of Endosulfan. A number of countries that have banned Endosulfan have done so as they have very low level of agricultural activities.”

Clean chit

The Centre said that no study report had ever directly blamed Endosulfan for health issues. The report said: “Studies by the World Health Organisation in 2006 had given a clean chit to the pesticide.”

It said that the Stockholm Convention had recognised the fact that developing countries like India required cost-effective and safe substitutes to Endosulfan. “This means that India and some other developing countries will be entitled to continue producing and using Endosulfan for a period of 5 years, which can be extended for a further period of 5 years for crops for which the chemical is registered in India against specific pests.”

The Centre submitted that it would take a year to ratify the Convention. Thereafter, information on chemical and non-chemical alternatives to Endosulfan would be compiled and analysed by the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) and would be submitted to the parties for consideration.

The Centre said, in the April 2011 meeting of Stockholm Convention, India had joined the consensus for phasing out Endosulfan. The report of POPRC on cost-effective and safe alternatives would facilitate India to take a decision following its domestic regulatory and legislative processes.

The Centre said that since the views of all the States had been sought, a final view could be taken by the court after receipt of responses and inputs from the expert committee. The prayer in the writ petition for banning of Endosulfan was unnecessary, it said and sought its dismissal.

The petition comes up for further hearing on August 5.

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