Kerala’s attempts to influence the Centre could not yield any significant impact on India’s stand on endosulfan at the sixth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee to the Stockholm Convention which concluded in Geneva on Friday.
India opposed a global ban on manufacture, use, import and export of endosulfan and related chemicals. However, the Committee adopted the risk management evaluation for endosulfan with overwhelming majority and recommended a ban with specific exemptions to the Conference of Parties of Convention to be held in April next year.
It reiterated that global action was warranted since endosulfan was likely, as a result of long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects. A lack of full scientific certainty should not prevent the proposal from proceeding.
Of the 29 members in the Committee, 24 supported the decision while four including the Chair (Germany) abstained. Ghana, Nigeria and China were the other abstainers.
C. Jayakumar of Thiruvananthapuram based non-governmental organisation Thanal, who was an observer at the meeting, said that the Indian representatives miserably failed to protect the interest of the farmers and overtly supported the industry. Thanks to the evidence provided by the letters of Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandnan and Forest Minister Benoy Viswam to the Centre, the Committee had recorded that the use of endosulfan has been put on hold in Kerala. (The Chief Minister had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to favour a ban on endosulfan. Mr. Viswam had also made a similar demand in his letter to the Union Minister of Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh.) Many delegates had seen copies of the letter written by the Chief Minister which served to disprove the pesticides lobby’s claim that endosulfan caused little harm, he told The Hindu over phone.
Considering that at least 60 countries have banned or are phasing out the use of endosulfan, the Committee observed that it could be assumed that there are viable alternatives available in many different geographical situations both in developed and developing countries.
“However, replacing endosulfan with chemical and non-chemical alternatives may be difficult and/or costly for some specific crop pest complexes in some countries. Several countries that are currently phasing out endosulfan have indicated a need to continue some applications of endosulfan to allow for the phase-in of alternatives.
Furthermore, taking into account that replacing endosulfan with chemical and non-chemical alternatives may be difficult and/or costly for some specific crop pest complexes in some countries, it may be necessary to address those situations through specific exemptions,” it said.
India dropped out of the discussions towards the end and did not participate in voting.