Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh India (PressExposure) February 08, 2011 -- Had Endosulfan been the cause of people's suffering in Kasargod, farmers all over India would have been having similar issues, which is not the case" reasoned Mr. Chengal Reddy, voicing the farmers' concerns at a press conference today. Mr. Chengal Reddy is Secretary General - Consortium of Indian Farmers Association and Chairman Federation of Farmers Associations. At a briefing organized by Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association (PMFAI), Mr Reddy was joined by the prominent expert on pesticide residue, Dr. S K Handa and Mr R Hariharan, Chairman, International Stewardship Centre Inc. (ISC), to speak out against the pressure groups that are demanding a ban on pesticide Endosulfan. Mr. Hariharan stated that "If the POPRC (Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee) recommendation to list Endosulfan as a POP at The Stockholm Convention is accepted, it would be against interests of Indian farmers and farmers in the developing world". Mr Hariharan added that "It's unfortunate that there are no observers at the Stockholm Convention representing interests of farmers and farming community while there are a number of observers from environmental NGO's against use of pesticides. Its time for farmers associations to participate actively and defend their interests at such Conventions" he said.
Dr S K Handa, an expert on pesticide residues criticized the manner in which scientists at National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) hastily conducted a study which blamed Endosulfan for causing health problems in Kasargod, Kerala. The NIOH study titled "The Final Report of the investigation of unusual illness allegedly produced by Endosulfan exposure in Padre Village of Kasargod district (N. Kerala)", has been the root cause for the demand for a ban on the pesticide Endosulfan. Dr Handa rejected the residue study on Endosulfan and stated that "since there was no confirmation referring to presence of Endosulfan in the report made by scientists at NIOH, Endosulfan cannot be blamed for diseases in Kerala." Supporting Dr Handa's views, Mr Kapil Mehan, Managing Director of Coromandel International, a leading producer of Endosulfan stated "At Coromandel International we serve millions of Indian farmers through supplies of high quality fertilizers and pesticides and have not received any health complaint from farmers in relation to use of Endosulfan" India is the second largest producer and exporter of fruits and vegetables which need effective cross pollination by the honey bees. Andhra Pradesh is one of the leading states in production of fruits and vegetables and farmers here depend on bee visits. Endosulfan is the last available plant protection which is safe for honey bees and it continues to be used successfully in farms here. "A scientific error by few scientists at NIOH is affecting the interest of poor and marginal farmers across India. As experience shows, there has been successful use of Endosulfan through 40 years in India and 55 years in Europe. Ill effects if any should have been visible long ago." said Mr Reddy.
Mr. Anil Kakkar, Director - Crop Care Federation of India cited that, in countries such as India where small acre farming and sustainable farming is widely prevalent, concepts such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Insect Resistance Management (IRM) are promoted by agricultural universities and agronomists. This involves use of generic insecticides like Endosulfan which are soft on pollinators such as honey bees and beneficial insects such as lady bird beetle and chrysoperla. Mr Anil Kakkar stated that "A ban on Endosulfan would deprive the Indian farmer access to an affordable and effective crop protection solution and alternatives are likely to be harmful to the farm ecosystem and destroy pollinators and beneficials."
Though EU-region accounts for only 8% of the world's agricultural land it is world leader in chemical and pesticide trade. There are concerted efforts to maneuver trade through international conventions and trade restrictive practices. The global crop protection industry is worth US$ 40 billion and the top three companies alone account for over 50% of this market. All three of them are European and it is not surprising that the European Commission works in the best interest of its industry. "There is a strong motivation for the European multinationals to replace widely used, generic and low priced pesticides with their high priced patented alternatives," concluded Mr Pradip Dave, President (PMFAI).