Renowned agriculture scientist M. S. Swaminathan has complimented the Kerala government for its decision to ban the use of Endosulfan across the State.

Speaking on the sidelines of the sixth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning here on Thursday, Dr. Swaminathan said that he has been advocating a ban on the use of the pesticide in Kerala for long time.

Praising the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on his decision to offer Rs. 100 crore as assistance for rehabilitating the families affected by the use of Endosulfan, Dr. Swaminathan said that the Minister had also pointed out that it is for the State governments to decide (on banning the pesticide) according to the risks and benefits of Endosulfan. “There are a large number of risks. That is why even the United States has banned it,” he said.

Pointing out that the Union government did not want to impose an all-India ban without consulting other States where Endosulfan is used in large quantities, Dr. Swaminathan recommended the adoption of the ‘precautionary principle’ in this case, as it involved the health of men, women, and children. “It’s always better to go on the safer side. That is my philosophy particularly when it involves the health of the people,” he said.

Stating that Endosulfan is an effective pesticide, Dr. Swaminathan said that he would not compromise on the human health, as every life is precious. “That is why we should adopt the precautionary principle,” he said.

Referring to Mr. Pawar’s suggestion for introducing organic pesticides in Kerala, Dr. Swaminathan said that he had learnt from media reports that the Minister had suggested the use of botanical and biological pesticides here. “You can use other forms like neem, which are much safer,” he said.

Explaining that there is no need for any new commission to study the health impact of the use of Endosulfan, Dr. Swaminathan asked the other States to analyse the risks and benefits of the pesticide. “But the bottomline of the policy should be the health of the men, women, and children,” he said.

Asked whether the ban on Endosulfan in Kerala alone would achieve the expected results, Dr. Swaminathan said that it is feasible. “Kerala farmers are literate people. But I think there is consensus in Kerala (against the use of the pesticide),” he said.