This refers to the article “Why endosulfan, all insecticides are poison” (Open Page, May 1). I have several years experience in the research, development and manufacture of pesticides. On its website, the government enterprise Hindustan Insecticides Ltd. (HIL) shows the production of 1,600 tonnes of technical-grade endosulfan at Aluva, Kerala. The government enterprise Plantation Corporation of Kerala bought endosulfan from HIL and, using government-appointed contractors, sprayed the insecticide using helicopters on cashew trees in Kasaragod. This happened for years causing severe damage to life.
This method of pesticide application has never been done anywhere in the world on farms close to settlements. Reports indicate that there are over 12,000 people who have been affected in Kerala. The only reported tragedy of a similar magnitude was in Vietnam caused by the spraying of ‘Agent Orange' by the U.S. Air Force in the 1970s.
That India has finally agreed to heed the global consensus on banning endosulfan at the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) at Geneva is welcome. But it is a shame that it took so long. India has failed to listen to the voices of its people.
It does not require much wisdom to recognise that all pesticides are poison. But can the author claim that the method of spraying endosulfan — aerially — has caused the misery? How does one explain the incidents being reported from Haryana, Karnataka and Orissa? It is more pronounced in Kasaragod because the effects of prolonged use have started appearing only now. But how can a civilised society remain mute to this horror?