Campaign to ban Endosulfan
The insecticide endosulfan is also the focus of NGO efforts in many countries and at the international level. The largest uses of endosulfan are on cotton, tea, coffee and soy bean, but it is also used on vegetables, fruits and in forestry. It is a wide-spectrum insecticide that indiscriminately harm many non-target species including humans. Endosulfan is highly toxic and can be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. It directly affects the central nervous system and may contribute to epileptic seizures. It exhibits estrogenic properties - experimental and epidemiological evidence links it to dysfunctions of the male reproductive system including effects on semen quality and sperm count. It also has potential to induce hypothyroidism.
In the Philippines, the province of Bukidnon (which had undergone a CPAM training workshop and implemented monitoring by PAN Philippines) has issued an independent ban on the use of Endosulfan. In addition, there is now a temporary ban on endosulfan in the Philippines due to the campaign and pressure of RESIST, a CSO network, in response to the sinking of a ship which carried 10 metric tons of endosulfan destined for use by Del Monte. In Indonesia, Gita Pertiwi’s consistent involvement in the implementation of the Stockholm Convention and push of the endosulfan campaign contributed to the decision by Indonesia to ban the highly toxic pesticide. In New Zealand, PAN Aotearoa New Zealand joined the reassessment process of the Environmental Risk Management Authority New Zealand contributing to the decision by the Authority to ban it. PAN Germany contributed to the campaign by producing a field guide on “How to Grow Crops without Endosulfan”. The Endosulfan monograph and field guide will further be circulated widely in different countries.
In the Indian state of Kerala, until very recently, endosulfan was routinely sprayed from airplanes onto cashew plantations. A local NGO, Thanal, learned that entire villages near these plantations were suffering from chronic poisoning. People in these villages suffered from an unusually high incidence of cerebral palsy and other central nervous system disorders, congenital neurological disorders, body deformations, cancers, reproductive disorders, miscarriages and endocrine disruption. Endosulfan residues measured in cow milk and flesh showed endosulfan contamination more than 100 times the permissible levels. NGOs and the Kerala medical community joined together, and in 2002, they secured an order by state officials banning all uses of endosulfan in the state of Kerala.
The use of endosulfan is currently banned in at least 57 countries. NGOs are campaigning to encourage governments to agree that endosulfan should be added to the Rotterdam Convention list of banned and restricted chemicals so that exports of endosulfan to developing countries will be prohibited unless the government of the importing country is notified and gives its prior informed consent. NGOs are also campaigning to list endosulfan as a Persistent Organic Pollutant under the Stockholm Convention with the intent of establishing a worldwide ban on its production and use.
Thank you Mr President.
My Name is Meriel Watts and I am representing Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN).
PAN and IPEN strongly support the POPRC's recommendation that priority be given to ecosystem-based approaches to pest management as alternatives to endosulfan.
We also strongly support the recommendation that the COP directs the POPRC to continue to assess the 9 pesticides shown by its initial analysis to potentially meet the Annex D criteria for a POP.
GENEVA: Gathered in Geneva for the Fifth Conference of the Parties this week, the nations of the world agreed to add endosulfan, an antiquated persistent insecticide, to the Stockholm Convention’s list of banned substances. Environmental health and justice organizations from around the world who have been working towards a ban welcomed the decision.
Endosulfan is a highly toxic pesticide that accumulates in the food chain and in humans, travels long distances, and breaks down very slowly in the environment. Recently, an expert committee of the Stockholm Convention1 concluded that endosulfan requires global action to prevent further harms to human health and the environment2, and recommended listing it under Annex A of the Convention for global elimination3. In 2009, the Convention Expert Committee noted that more than 60 countries had banned endosulfan4.
Report and Photographs by Shibu K. Nair. Published by Thanal, May 2009. Published with the support of IPEN Pesticide Working Group