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Posted on 22 February 2011

India will not ban Endosulfan pesticide, says Sharad Pawar

But, state governments are free to do so, he adds

Iftikhar Gilani
New Delhi

An endosulfan victim

India’s Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has refused to ban Endosulfan, a chemical used widely in India as an insecticide. He blamed farmers for the disastrous effects of this pesticide on people.

For instance, Kasargod district of Kerala had reported deaths and permanent disabilities due to the use of this chemical.

Pawar said the culprits were the farmers who were spraying the pesticide on the cashew crop against the advice of the Pesticide Board not to use it for spray.

“That might be the reason for the ill-effects on people,” he said.

Ruing out a national ban on Endosulfan, he said four expert panels in 1991, 1999, 2003 and 2004 found no ill-effects on humans. However, he said the Centre has no objection to Kerala and Karnataka banning its sale and use.

In reply to a question by Kerala's Congress member K Sudhakaran in the Lok Sabha on the use of the pesticide despite a ban in many countries, Pawar said it is banned in 60 countries but allowed in 40 countries that include China, Australia and Brazil and a number of farmers in many states in India too find no problem with Endosulfan.

Aerial spraying of Endosulfan was undertaken by the Karnataka Cashew Development Board in villages of Dakshina Kannada to control T-mosquito pest in the crop and the state cabinet banned it after getting reports of its ill-effects on health of the locals.

The Endosulfan Manufacturers and Formulators Welfare Association has, however, moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the ban.

India's share in the global Endosulfan market is over 70 percent with an annual production of 12 million litres valued at Rs 4,500 crore. Exports of the chemical are valued at Rs 180 crore.

The Indian industry claims that Endosulfan is soft on pollinators such as honeybees and beneficial pests such as ladybird beetle, while killing harmful ones and, therefore, there is no need for a ban.

The European Union’s proposal to categorise Endosulfan as a persistent organic pollutant has already raised hackles as many believe that a ban would deprive the Indian farmer access to an affordable crop protection solution.

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Posted on 22 February 2011



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