Endosulfan, which caused more than 500 deaths and maimed more than 4000 persons in Kerala according to Kerala government, has become a test case for the Stockholm Convention according to some of the delegates.

International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Reporting Service for Environment and Development Negotiations said on Wednesday that Tuesday morning’s plenary session of the conference of parties to the Convention was full and tense as it turned attention to endosulfan.

Endosulfan had hamstrung Stockholm’s sister convention, the Rotterdam Convention on prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade, for years. “This unfortunate precedent had many interpreting consideration of endosulfan as a significant test for the Stockholm. Will Stockholm too, succumb to politics? Have wizened parties developed new strategies to avoid political blockades? “.

As initial views were exchanged, some participants were pleased at the apparent openness of most parties to discussing the issue, other more seasoned delegates predicted long evenings ahead, the reporting service added. The contact group on endosulfan and new persistent organic pollutants, chaired by Qatar, began work in the evening on thrashing out possible exemptions associated with ban on endosulfan, notably those crop-pest complexes of particular concern to parties.

A minority of participants questioned the mandate of the group, but after confirmation from the legal advisor, continued work. While majority of the countries supported ban on endosulfan, some with riders; India has been stressing on consensus decision with the objective to postpone decision on endosulfan. Switzerland maintained that voting was an option for listing pollutants for ban. China and Japan opined that the recommendations of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to the Convention should be by consensus.

POPRC Chair Reiner Arndt (Germany), who introduced POPRC’s recommendation to list endosulfan in Annex A of the Convention (for ban) with specific exemptions, noted that the recommendation was taken by consensus by all POPRC members present and voting. (India had dropped out of discussions and had not voted at the committee along with a few other countries.)

Countries of Europe, Latin American and Caribbean Group and African Group are supporting the ban. The United States, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Oman, Argentina, Morocco, Jordan and Qatar are among the countries that expressed support for the ban during the plenary session. Cuba said the financial implications of listing must be clarified before it could support listing.

The International Stewardship Center emphasized that the proposed alternatives to endosulfan were not affordable and that its listing will be detrimental to farmers. Thanal, the non-Governmental orgnisation from Kerala, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada), Pesticide Action Network and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation welcomed the proposal for ban. The Indian Chemical Council, representing the industry, said there was insufficient scientific evidence to justify a ban.