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Mass Petition Demanding total ban of the production and use of Endosulfan- the toxic Pesticide

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The Minister of Environment
Government of India

Dear Sir

We, the concerned citizens and affected people, would like to invite your urgent attention to the disastrous results that Endosulfan- - the toxic pesticide – has wreaked on the lives people and environment of India. On the basis of clear evidence that unmistakably and amply demonstrated the adverse impact of Endosulfan, we urge you to immediately ban the production, distribution and the use of this toxic pesticide in India
Endosulfan is being considered for a global ban by the Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that India is one of the countries opposing this ban, especially given the population density of the nation and the popular ignorance of the extent to which pesticides can be harmful.
India is one of the countries worst affected by the production and use of the toxic pesticide. The people of India have a right to life, guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution. As Endosulfan, being a confirmed toxic pesticide, has been proved to have adverse impact on the right to health and life of the people, we demand urgent ban of the production, distribution and use of Endosulfan at the very earliest.

I. Evidence Against the Use of Endosulfan in India
We would like to invite your attention to following clear evidences against the production and use of Endosulfan.
1) Endosulfan is an organochlorine compound that is used as an insecticide and acaricide. It is one of the most toxic pesticides in the market today, responsible for many fatal pesticide poisoning incidents around the world.] Endosulfan is also a xenoestrogen—a synthetic substance that imitates or enhances the effect of estrogens—and it can act as an endocrine disruptor, causing reproductive and developmental damage in both animals and humans. There are also studies that indicate that endosulfan may a potential cause for cancer

2) India the world's largest user of endosulfan, and a major producer with three companies—Excel Crop Care, H.I.L., and Coromandal Fertilizers—producing 4,500 tonnes annually for domestic use and another 4,000 tonnes for export. Banned in more than 63 countries, including the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, and other Asian and West African nations, and soon in the United States[3][4]this toxic pesticide is extensively in many parts of India. It is produced by Bayer Crop Science, Makhteshim Agan, and Government-of-India–owned Hindustan Insecticides Limited among others. Because of its threats to the environment, there is an increasing demand for the global ban on the use and manufacture of endosulfan under the Stockholm Convention.

3) Endosulfan was used in Kasrgod district of Kerala since 1979. The disastrous impact of Endosulfan was first seen among animals and then among the adverse health conditions of people living in the areas. By the 1990s, the human population of Kasaragod came face to face with the scale of the tragedy. With congenital anomalies, mental retardation, physical deformities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hydrocephalus etc, the innocent children of the area were found to be the worst affected. Men and women were also affected with various chronic ailments, many irreversible and difficult to treat. There is a high incidence of disorders of the central nerves system, Cancer and reproductive disorders. The National Institute Occupational Health (Indian Council of Medical Research) says that after studying various etiological factors responsible for health problem was aerial spraying of Endosulfan.

4) Due to local protests of people, the issue has acquired more visibility and attention of the policy makers. In 2001, in Kerala, endosulfan spraying became suspect when linked to a series of abnormalities noted in local children. . Initially endosulfan was banned, yet under pressure from the pesticide industry this ban was largely revoked. Due to the recent protest against Endosulfan, the use of the pesticide is again banned in Kerala. The situation there has been called "next in magnitude only to the Bhopal gas tragedy."In 2006, in Kerala, compensation of Rs 50,000 was paid to the next kin of each of 135 people who were identified as having died as a result of endosulfan use. Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan also gave an assurance to people affected by poisoning, "that the government would chalk out a plan to take care of treatment, food and other needs of the affected persons and that its promise of rehabilitation of victims would be honoured."

All the above points clearly show the urgent need for banning the production and use of endosulfan in India.
II. Scientific Evidence against the production and use of Endosulfan
We would further invite your attend to the scientific evidence against the use of Endosulfan.

a) Toxicity
Endosulfan is acutely neurotoxic to both insects and mammals, including humans. The US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) classifies it as Category I: "Highly Acutely Toxic" based on a LD value of 30 mg/kg for female rats while the World Health Organization classifies it as Class II "Moderately Hazardous" based on a rat LD50 of 80 mg/kg. It is a GABA-gated chloride channel antagonist, and a Ca2+, Mg2+ ATPase inhibitor. Both of these enzymes are involved in the transfer of nerve impulses. Symptoms of acute poisoning include hyperactivity, tremors, convulsions, lack of coordination, staggering, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, unconsciousness. Doses as low as 35 mg/kg have been documented to cause death in humans,] and many cases of sub-lethal poisoning have resulted in permanent brain damage] Farm workers with chronic endosulfan exposure are at risk of rashes and skin irritation. EPA's acute reference dose for dietary exposure to endosulfan is 0.015 mg/kg for adults and 0.0015 mg/kg for children. For chronic dietary exposure, the EPA references doses are 0.006 mg/ (kg•day) and 0.0006 mg/ (kg•day) for adults and children, respectively.

b) Adverse Impact on Health

Several studies have documented that endosulfan can also affect human development. Researchers studying children from an isolated village in Kerala, India have linked endosulfan exposure to delays in sexual maturity among boys. Endosulfan was the only pesticide applied to cashew plantations in the hills above the village for 20 years and had contaminated the village environment. The researchers compared the villagers to a control group of boys from a demographically similar village that lacked a history of endosulfan pollution. Relative to the control group, the exposed boys had high levels of endosulfan in their bodies, lower levels of testosterone, and delays in reaching sexual maturity. Birth defects of the male reproductive system including cryptorchidism were also more prevalent in the study group. The researchers concluded that "our study results suggest that endosulfan exposure in male children may delay sexual maturity and interfere with sex hormone synthesis." Increased incidences of cryptorchidism have been observed in other studies of endosulfan exposed populations.
A 2007 study by the California Department of Public Health found that women who lived near farm fields sprayed with endosulfan and the related organochloride pesticide dicofol during the first eight weeks of pregnancy are several times more likely to give birth to children with autism. This is the first study to look for an association between endosulfan and autism, and additional study is needed to confirm the connection.]
A 2009 assessment concluded that epidemiology and rodent studies that suggest male reproductive and autism effects are open to other interpretations, and that developmental or reproductive toxicity occurs only at endosulfan doses that cause neurotoxicity.

c) Environmental Impact
Endosulfan is a very persistent chemical which may stay in the environment for lengthy periods of time, particularly in acid media." It is pointed out that “endosulfan has relatively high potential to bioaccumulate in fish." It is also toxic to amphibians: low levels have been found to kill tadpoles.]
Endosulfan is subject to long range atmospheric transport, i.e. it can travel long distances from where it is used. For example, a 2008 report by the National Park Service found that endosulfan commonly contaminates air, water, plants and fish of national parks in the U.S. Most of these parks are far from areas where endosulfan is used]Endosulfan has also been detected in dust from the Sahara Desert collected in the Caribbean after being blown across the Atlantic Ocean.] In 2009, the committee of scientific experts of the Stockholm Convention concluded that "endosulfan is likely, as a result of long range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects such that global action is warranted."

d) Global Advocacy Against Endosulfan
In 2007, the international community took steps to restrict the use and trade of endosulfan. It is recommended for inclusion in the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent, and the European Union proposed to add it to the list of chemicals banned under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. If approved, all use and manufacture of endosulfan would be banned globally. Meanwhile, Canada announces that endosulfan is under consideration for phase-out in that country, [and Bayer Crop Science voluntarily pulls its endosulfan products from the U.S. market] but continues to sell them abroad.
In February 2008, environmental, consumer, and farm labor groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Organic Consumers Association, and the United Farm Workers called on the U.S. EPA to ban endosulfan. In May, coalitions of scientists, environmental groups, and arctic tribes asked the EPA to cancel endosulfan, [and in July a coalition of environmental and workers groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA challenging its 2002 decision to not ban it. In October, the Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention moved endosulfan along in the procedure for listing under the treaty, while India blocked its addition to the Rotterdam Convention

We would further like to invite your attention to the clear case of the adverse impact of Endosulfan in the state of Kerala:

In Kerala, the pesticide was banned in 2001, but as per the Insecticide act 1968, State Governments do not have the authority to ban a pesticide, and the ban was subsequently lifted. The sale of the pesticide was stopped by the order of the Kerala High Court in 2002, and later, in 2006, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation Issued a Gazette Notification, withholding its further sale in the state. It is widely reported in the press with ample proof that the use of Endosulfan is being continued to be used in Kerala on a large scale.

We demand a complete ban of production, distribution and use of Endosulfan in the country to ensure health and safety people and environmental sustainability of India.

We demand the victims of the tragedy be identified and be given health care extensively and free of cost as also a compensation befitting the proportions of the tragedy that has befallen them.

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