Monday, September 12, 2011

Call for Indian ban on pesticide linked to birth defects

8 September 2011

The Indian supreme court is due to decide on the use of a controversial pesticide blamed for causing neurological and congenital deformities in babies. 

The court has already imposed a temporary ban across India, but the government in Delhi says Endosulfan is a cheap and effective pesticide, and there is not enough evidence to outlaw it nationally. 

The southern state of Kerala, where Endosulfan was regularly sprayed from helicopters, brought in a ban 11 years ago - but campaigners say it is still having an impact on the lives of children born today. 

Rupa Jha reports from Kasargod in Kerala.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More than 60 pesticides banned in other countries in use in India

by  Roy Mathew  

Some of the pesticides in use in Kerala. Photo: Roy Mathew
Many pesticides which have been banned or severely restricted in some countries are in use in Kerala and other States. 

Kerala banned the use of 15 pesticides in May this year. However, about a dozen pesticides which were either banned or severely restricted in other countries continue to be used in Kerala, C. Jayakumar of Thanal (an advocacy organisation campaigning against pesticides) told The Hindu. Moreover, several of the banned pesticides are still in use and some of the alternatives suggested officially are pesticides banned in other countries. 

Currently, 67 pesticides which have been banned or restricted in some countries are in use in India. Though expert committees set up by the Central government have examined the matter, they had recommended continued use of the pesticides in most cases. In some cases, they recommended that they be allowed for restricted use. 

Committees that reviewed nearly half the pesticides were headed by C.D. Mayee who had reported that no link could be found between endosulfan and the health effects among those exposed to the pesticide in Kasaragod district. In almost all cases, Mr. Mayee had recommended continued use of the pesticides banned in other countries in India. In a few cases, restrictions were recommended. 

The pesticides in use in Kerala include Carbaryl, Malathion, Acephate, Dimethoate, Chlorpyrifos, Lindane, Quinalphos, Phosphomidon, Carbandizm, Captan, Tridamorph, Practilachlor, 2.4–D and Glyphosate. “We are caught in a pesticide trap and need to get out of these and look for green options such as biological control or non pesticide management that has been a huge success in Andhra Pradesh,” Dr. Jayakumar said.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture was often taking a stand in favour of continued use of harmful pesticides. A similar situation had existed in the United States in the seventies. In 1972, the U.S. Congress passed the “Federal Environmental Pesticides Control Act” which transferred all responsibility of pesticide registration and regulation to the USEPA, in large part to address the charges that the U.S. 

Department of Agriculture suffered from pro-pesticide bias, says Kieth Douglass in his book Agroecology in Action. Those campaigning against pesticides say that a similar action was called for in India also. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vietnam Era Weapon Being Used to Clear the Amazon

Vietnam Era Weapon Being Used to Clear the Amazon

by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil on 07. 5.11
agent orange photo
Source: Wikipedia

Agent Orange is one of the most devastating weapons of modern warfare, a chemical which killed or injured an estimated 400,000 people during the Vietnam War -- and now it's being used against the Amazon rainforest. According to officials, ranchers in Brazil have begun spraying the highly toxic herbicide over patches of forest as a covert method to illegally clear foliage, more difficult to detect that chainsaws and tractors. In recent weeks, an aerial survey detected some 440 acres of rainforest that had been sprayed with the compound -- poisoning thousands of trees and an untold number of animals, potentially for generations.

Officials from Brazil's environmental agency IBAMA were first tipped to the illegal clearing by satellite images of the forest in Amazonia; a helicopter flyover in the region later revealed thousands of trees left ash-colored and defoliated by toxic chemicals. IBAMA says that Agent Orange was likely dispersed by aircraft by a yet unidentified rancher to clear the land for pasture because it is more difficult to detect than traditional operations that require chainsaws and tractors.

                              Photo: IBAMA

Last week, in another part of the Amazon, an investigation conducted by the agency uncovered approximately four tons of the highly toxic herbal pesticides hidden in the forest awaiting dispension. If released, the chemicals could have potentially decimated some 7,500 acres of rainforest, killing all the wildlife that resides there and contaminating groundwater. In this case, the individual responsible was identified and now faces fines nearing $1.3 million.

According to a report from Folha de São Paulo, the last time such chemicals were recorded in use by deforesters was in 1999, but officials say dispensing the devastating herbicide may become more common as officials crack down on the most flagrant types of environmental crime.

"They [deforesters] have changed their strategy because, in a short time, more areas of forest can be destroyed with herbicides. Thus, they don't need to mobilize tree-cutting teams and can therefore bypass the supervision of IBAMA," says Jerfferson Lobato of IBAMA.

agent-orange-effects.jpg While Agent Orange was originally designed to clear forest coverage in combat situations, its use became a subject of controversy due to its impact on humans and wildlife. During the Vietnam War, the United States military dispersed 12 million gallons of herbicide, impacting the health of some 3 million, mostly peasant, Vietnamese citizens, and causing birth defects in around 500 thousand children. Additionally, the chemical's effect on the environment have been profound and lasting.

Last month, over three decades after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, the US began funding a $38 million decontamination operation there. Meanwhile, in the Brazilian Amazon, the highly toxic chemical was being discovered anew and sprayed over the rainforest.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Monk leads protest over use of pesticides in Sri Lanka

Colombo - A Buddhist monk led hundreds of protestors Thursday to campaign against the use of pesticides in Sri Lanka after fresh scientific research revealed that waterways were contaminated with arsenic, which can cause kidney failure.
The monk, Ven Athureliya Rathana, who is also a parliamentarian, led a march from parliament to a temple in the south of the country to perform rituals against those promoting pesticides. 'Our protest is also aimed at creating awareness about the dangers of use of pesticides', Ven Rathana said.The protest came after a group of academics said they had found irrigation canals contaminated with arsenic, as well as people suffering from arsenic poisoning. 
The Sri Lankan government offers fertilizer at a subsidized rate to farmers, but the useage of pesticides and chemicals are also on the increase. Researcher Chann Jayasumna said that as many as 20,000 patients suspected to be suffering from pesticide poisoning are undergoing treatment at state-run hospitals. He said many of them are farmers.

10 More Highly Toxic Pesticides to Be Prohibited in China

Guangzhou, Guangdong -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/20/2011 -- The July issue of Crop Protection China News has come out recently., The headline news is China Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) announced on July 5 that 10 more highly toxic pesticides, including methidathion, phorate, isofenphosmethyl and carbofuran, etc., will be banned in 2011.

According to MOA, although China has been banning highly toxic pesticides in these years, there are still 22 highly toxic pesticides, mostly insecticides allowed to be produced, sold and used in China. Except the 10 highly toxic pesticides that are confirmed to be banned in 2011, the other 12 highly toxic pesticides will be gradually banned in the forthcoming years.

MOA also declared that the prohibition date of the remaining 12 highly toxic pesticides will be depended on whether there is enough amount of alternative pesticides with highly efficient and lowly toxic.

Statistics show that there are 400 pesticide enterprises and about 900 kinds of products in China involved in the production of the 22 highly toxic pesticides and the capacity of these pesticides has reached around 104,000t/a in China. The annual output of them reached 50,000t/a in 2010, accounting for 2.5% of the total output of pesticides in 2010.

Besides, the prohibition of highly toxic pesticides will definitely provide a good chance for the development of biological pesticides in China. Actually, MOA has already started to draft the policy of encouraging pesticides players to conduct the R&D of biological pesticides, such as setting pilot projects of biological pesticide subsidies in Shanghai City, Shandong Province, etc. As the new policy's crackdown on highly toxic pesticides, it is expected that good prospect of biological pesticides will be expected in the coming years.

More news about the industrial trend, company dynamics, market price, and future forecast are unveiled in the latest issue of Crop Protection China News.

The following highlights are covered in the latest issue of Crop Protection China News:
- MOA announces to ban 10 more highly toxic pesticides in 2011.
- Huapont Pharm's merger with Nutrichem has been finally approved by CSRC on July 5, 2011.
- Lianhe Technology sets up a new pesticide intermediate subsidiary in Yancheng City.
- Jiangsu Lanfeng receives USD1.55 million of relocation compensation from local government on July 3, 2011.
- Sino-Agri enhances cooperation with foreign pesticide suppliers, aiming to provide efficient and eco-friendly products to domestic consumers.
- Noposion will gain a subsidy of about USD625 thousand from the government for the R&D on resin-based solvent.
- Heilongjiang Agriculture plans to develop some agricultural projects in Argentina, including the planting of soybean, corn and some other crops.
- Ministry of Agriculture would make a tighter control of the source of breeding materials, preventing a further illegal circulation of GM seeds.
- The price of Chinese potash fertilizer increases, which is beneficial to Sinofert.

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Posted Wednesday, July 31 2011 at 8:45 PM CDT - Permalink

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Europe to require listing of palm oil on product labels

Oil palm plantation in Malaysia. Photo by Jeremy Hance

Members of the European Parliament have voted in favor of listing specific vegetable oils — including palm oil — on product labels, reports the Clear Labels, Not Forests initiative which pushed for the measure.

The new agreement requires all vegetable oils to be labeled individually by 2015. Presently different oils are typically label under the generic term "vegetable oil."

Conservation groups pushed for the measure as a means to make consumers aware of whether the products they use contain palm oil, which environmental campaigners have linked to deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Conservationists are hoping palm oil labeling could encourage consumer products companies to use more eco-certified palm oil, which is generally produced without conversion of biologically-rich rainforests and peatlands. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the leading certification standard.

"Consumers want to know if products contain palm oil, and where that palm oil comes from," said Helen Buckland, UK Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society, one of the supporters of the Clear Labels, Not Forests initiative. "This new regulation will make palm oil visible on ingredients lists, enabling consumer choice and ultimately providing leverage for European companies to clean up their supply chains and only use certified sustainable palm oil."

"It is time for retailers and manufacturers to play their role in supporting the transformation of the industry."

The labeling measure has been strongly opposed by the Malaysian palm oil lobby, which fears that listing palm oil as an ingredient could result in discrimination against palm oil-containing products in the marketplace.

"Malaysia is of the view that labeling palm oil purely from the perspective of sustainable production is discriminatory," said Y.B. Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Malaysia's Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, in a statement issued last month after Australia passed a similar labeling rule.

Palm oil is used widely in processed food products and cosmetics. Its high yield makes it a cheap source of oil.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

China to Ban 10 High Toxic Insecticides

China plans to ban 10 types of high toxic insecticides by the year's end in an effort to ensure farm produce safety and protect the ecological environment, the Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday. The ministry and four other departments have drafted a scheme on elimination and ban the use of high toxic insecticides and the scheme has been submitted to the State Council, or the Cabinet, for approval, said Zhou Puguo, deputy director of the ministry's crop production bureau. 

The scheme will prompt the withdrawal of the registration certificates and production licenses for 10 insecticides, including fenamiphos and fonofos, and banning their production starting Oct. 31, 2011.
According to the scheme, sales and use of these insecticides will be banned starting Oct. 31, 2013, Zhou said. 

The government will conduct further research and evaluation related to the economic impacts of the ban on the use of a further 12 insecticides, as currently there are no suitable substitutes for them, he said.According to Zhou, more than 400 companies have registered about 900 products related to the 22 types of high toxic insecticides, which are mainly used on rice and cotton crops.

The government will give hard strike on illegal production and sales of high toxic insecticides that are banned by authorities. The illegal use of high toxic insecticides have resulted in people and farm animals becoming sickened, Zhou said.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Endosulfan listed under Rotterdam Convention

A view of the plenary session of conference of parties to the Rotterdam convention meeting in Geneva. Photo: IISD Reporting Services

India supports listing of pesticide

The Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, meeting in Geneva, decided to list endosulfan under annex III to the Convention on Friday.This makes prior informed consent of importing countries necessary for export of the pesticide. India, an exporter, did not object to listing of the pesticide.

India exports half of its annual production of around 9000 tonnes of endosulfan. However, production was stopped temporarily this month on orders from the Supreme Court on a petition filed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India, citing harmful health effects of the pesticide. The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is aimed at helping poor countries in managing potentially hazardous chemicals imported by them.

The Conference postponed a decision on listing of chrysotile (white asbestos) to its next meeting as no consensus could be reached. However, a declaration was drafted by Australia and signed by many of the country-delegates seeking to pursue voluntary exchange of information. Canada (besides some other countries) had strongly opposed the listing of asbestos without stating its reasons even while agreeing that the scientific criteria for listing had been met. On Thursday, the European Union expressed severe disappointment over the failure of discussions on asbestos and thanked India for changing its stand and supporting its listing. India initially objected to the listing of asbestos.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bad pesticides ruin Delta rice crop

CUU LONG DELTA — Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, already hit by topsy-turvy weather, are in danger of losing their rice crop to fake pesticides, Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper reported. The Chau Phu District Plant Protection Station in An Giang Province, for instance, reported strange signs like the unusual length of the internode and leaf (15cm) after a farmer used Asia Biochemical Co Ltd's pesticide known as BIM downy 75WP.

The province Plant Protection Department earlier reported 13 cases of production and distribution of fake pesticides, mostly of popular brands like Oshin 20WP, Chess 50WG, Atonik 1.8DD, Clincher 10 EC. "Many [of them] had anti-counterfeit stamps," Bui Van Khai, the department's chief inspector, said. Plant protection departments in Kien Giang and Dong Thap Provinces have also reported that many fake pesticide products are being sold.

"The producers do not focus on expensive pesticides that are easily detected [in case of fakes]," Nguyen Van Thien, director of the Dong Thap Plant Protection Department, said. Agriculturists warn that the rampant sale of fake products is likely to be the last straw for farmers who are already grappling with unseasonable weather since planting their summer-autumn crop.

Nguyen Phuoc Tuyen, head of scientific research at the Dong Thap Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "Farmers spray plant protection chemicals when they find their paddy diseased."Most of them will spray again and again if they see no improvement."

"Most active elements and solvents in these fake medicines are toxic compounds which do not decompose, and are toxic for the environment," Tuyen said. "They also exterminate fish and shrimp, and threaten the health of the sprayers." Inspectors should intensify oversight of manufacturing points, he said. They have for long focused on inspecting outlets selling pesticides, while the root of the problem – places where the spurious chemicals are manufactured – has not received attention, he said. Inspection of manufacturing places should not be difficult, and fakes could be "easily discovered" in the transportation phase, he said — VNS

Friday, May 6, 2011

Killer Pesticide Endosulfan to be Phased Out Globally

29 April, 2011


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.

The use of endosulfan has severely impacted the people of Kerala, India, where its use on cashew plantations has left thousands suffering from birth defects, mental retardation, and cancer. "This is the moment we have been dreaming of,” says Jayan Chelaton from Thanal, a public interest research group based in Kerala. “The tears of the mothers of the endosulfan victims cannot be remedied, but it will be a relief to them that there will not be any more people exposed to this toxic insecticide. It is good feeling for them. We are happy to note that this is also victory for poor farmers, as this proves people united from all over the world can get what they demand."

Because of its persistence, bioaccumulation, and mobility, endosulfan—like DDT—travels on wind and ocean currents to the Arctic where it contaminates the environment and traditional foods of the people who live there. “We are pleased with the decision of the global community today to phase out this dangerous chemical that has contaminated our traditional foods in the Arctic. Our people are some of the most contaminated on the planet." said Vi Waghiyi, a Yupik woman from St. Lawrence Island (Alaska) and the Environmental Health and Justice Program Director with Alaska Community Action on Toxics. "But until all manufacturing and uses of endosulfan are eliminated, this pesticide will continue to harm our peoples, so we urge all countries to rapidly implement safer alternatives and eliminate their last few uses of endosulfan."

For most uses the ban will take effect in a year, but use on a short list of crop-pest combinations will be phased out over a six-year period. “With a plethora of alternatives already available, we’d have preferred to see no exemptions included in the decision. But we were successful in restricting exemptions to specific combinations of crops and pests. This means that during the phase-out it can only be used in very specific situations,” said Karl Tupper, a staff scientist from Pesticide Action Network North America who attended the deliberations.

Endosulfan, a DDT-era pesticide, is one of the most toxic pesticides still in use today. Each year, it took the lives of dozens of African cotton farmers until recently being banned by most countries on the continent. Hundreds of farmers in the developing world still use it to commit suicide each year.

“The health of Indigenous Peoples around the world, including our Yaqui communities in Mexico, are directly and adversely impacted when these kinds of toxic chemicals are applied, usually without their knowledge or informed consent. This phase out is an important step forward for Indigenous Peoples adversely affected both at the source of application and in the Arctic where these toxics ultimately end up,” said Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of International Indian Treaty Council and coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples Global Caucus at the meeting.

According to Javier Souza, Coordinator of Pesticide Action Network Latin America, “This phase out of endosulfan provides an excellent opportunity for countries to implement non-chemical alternatives to pesticides and to strengthen and expand agroecological practices. National phase out efforts should be open to the participation of experts from academia, farmer organizations, and environmental groups with experience.”

Momentum for a global ban has been building for many years. “Endosulfan was first proposed for addition in the Convention in 2007. At that time about 50 countries had already banned it; today, more than 80 countries have banned it or announced phase-outs. NGOs have worked very hard to make this happen,” says Meriel Watts, senior science advisor, from Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific. “But today’s decision is really a tribute to all those farmers, communities, and activists across the planet who have suffered from endosulfan and fought for this day. It is especially a tribute to the thousands in the state of Kerala, India, whose health has suffered so terribly from endosulfan, to the inspirational leadership of Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan, and to the many other people there who have all fought for their rights and for a global ban on endosulfan.”

"We are delighted with this decision as it means agricultural workers, Indigenous Peoples and communities across the globe will finally be protected from this poisonous pollutant,” says Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, CoChair of IPEN - International POPs Elimination Network. “The UN’s own scientific body had clearly shown that endosulfan is a POP, despite the recent vocal claims by some. Endosulfan contaminates the Arctic food chain and Antarctic krill, poisons our farmers, and pollutes our breastmilk. It was clearly time for endosulfan to go and it now joins the same fate as old POPs pesticides like dieldrin and heptachlor, banned once and for all. It is essential that all POPs should be eliminated and this global ban will provide the much needed legal protection."

Available for Interviews:

·        Karl Tupper, Pesticide Action NetworkNorth America,, +1 415-981-1771 (USA)
·        Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith, International POPS Elimination Network,; +61 41-362-1557 (Australia)
·        Dr. Meriel Watts, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific,; +64 21-1807830. (NewZealand)
·        Vi Waghiyi, Alaska Community Action on Toxics,, +1 907-222-7714 (USA)
·        Jayakumar Chelaton, Thanal,
·        Andrea Carmen, International Indian Treaties Council,
·        Javier Souza, Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas para América Latina,

Endosulfan-free Café for Stockholm Convention Delegates

NGOs Host Endosulfan-free Café for Stockholm Convention Delegates

Health and community groups around the world call for an end to endosulfan
April 26, Geneva, Switzerland – Health and community leaders from across the globe are serving organic coffee, cashews and chocolate — free of the pesticide endosulfan — to Stockholm Convention delegates in Geneva. At the gathering this week the governments will decide whether to include the persistent insecticide in the Convention, which would ban it in the 173 countries that are Parties to the treaty.

“Among the largest remaining users of endosulfan are the cotton, soy, coffee, chocolate, and tea industries in certain countries,” explains Karl Tupper, Staff Scientist with Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America. “By featuring organic examples of these products from around the world in our Café, we’re demonstrating that endosulfan-free production is not only possible but also profitable — proving false the claims from the pesticide industry that endosulfan is necessary for growing these crops.”

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (also known as the “POPs Treaty”) aims to protect human health and the environment by eliminating chemicals that are the ‘worst of the worst’: those that are simultaneously toxic, bioaccumulative, persistent, and mobile in the global environment. Endosulfan has been recommended by the treaty’s POPs Review Committee for addition to the list of 21 chemicals already slated for global phaseout.

The NGO ‘café’ will feature endosulfan-free organic coffee from Brazil, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, México, India and other countries, organic cashews from India, chocolate made from organic cocoa from various Latin American nations and organic tea from China, India, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. The free café, which is open periodically throughout the week, is called “The Annex A Café,” after the section of the Convention where endosulfan would be listed for phaseout.

“Many less toxic and safer alternatives to endosulfan are being used successfully around the globe — from cotton farms in West Africa to coffee growers in Latin America to tea plantations in Asia. There is no excuse for keeping a toxic insecticide like endosulfan on the market,” says Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN). Many of these alternatives to endosulfan have been well documented, and the NGOs are making information about them available to meeting delegates.

NGOs serving the delegates will be wearing t-shirts made from organic cotton grown in India, provided by the company Pants2Poverty, which sources organic cotton from both India and West Africa. Many other food items grown without endosulfan, such as soy and sugarcane, are also on display at the Café. 

Endosulfan is a toxic insecticide that persists in the environment and accumulates in humans and animals. It causes reproductive harm and birth defects in humans, as has been seen in the tragic cases from Kerala, India. “The human health harms of endosulfan are horrific — as victims from the state of Kerala testify,” says Jayakumar Chelaton of the Indian NGO Thanal. “Governments cannot continue putting the profit motive above the health of people — they must ban endosulfan.”

“In addition to the tragic developmental effects and birth defects highlighted in Kerala, endosulfan has also been linked to cancer, hormone disruption and long term neurological effects such as epilepsy and autism”, says Dr. Meriel Watts of PAN Asia and the Pacific. “There have also been many deaths from acute poisoning, especially amongst farmers using endosulfan in the cotton fields of Africa. Endosulfan’s human health harms are well understood and 80 countries around the world have already banned it or are phasing it out.”

Endosulfan travels long distances on air and water currents, and, through a process known as global distillation, accumulates in colder Northern latitudes such as the Arctic regions — thousands of miles from where it was originally used. “Endosulfan affects Indigenous Peoples where it is used, at the original source of contamination, and accumulates from around the globe in the circumpolar Arctic where it contaminates the bodies of our peoples, especially unborn and young children, and traditional food sources such as marine mammals.   This is a violation of our internationally-recognized human rights as Indigenous Peoples,” says Andrea Carmen of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC).

“Endosulfan is contaminating the traditional foods of Arctic Indigenous Peoples,” agrees Vi Waghiyi, a Yupik woman from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, and Environmental Health and Justice Program Director with Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “This is an affront to our human rights, our health, the health of our children and to our cultures. We are among the most highly contaminated people on earth because of the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic. We urge the COP5 delegates to take immediate action by including endosulfan in Annex A and continue work toward eliminating all POPs.”

Innovative farmers are using cutting edge practices, to achieve good outputs in key crops in Africa, Asia and Latin America without using endosulfan. “Organic practices are the safest, most effective and highly productive approaches to growing crops without endosulfan,” says Dr. Abou Thiam of PAN Africa.

Endosulfan is unnecessary,” adds Javier Souza of Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas para América Latina (RAPAL). “In Latin America, coffee, fruit, vegetables, sugar and soy are all produced without endosulfan. We call upon the nations around the world to support a global ban on endosulfan. It is high time that public health is valued above corporate profits.”

Available for interviews:

Andrea Carmen, IITC. Contact:
Jayakumar Chelaton, Thanal, India. Contact:
Dr. Mariann Lloyd- Smith, IPEN. Contact: +6-141-362-1557
Javier Souza, RAPAL, Contact:
Dr. Abou Thiam, PAN Africa, Contact:
Karl Tupper, PAN North America, Contact:
Vi Waghiyi, Alaska Community Action on Toxics. Contact:
Dr. Meriel Watts, PAN Asia and the Pacific, Contact: +64-21-1807830

India agrees to Endosulfan ban

India agrees to Endosulfan ban

Stockholm:  In a major change of position, India on Friday accepted at a world convention in Geneva that the pesticide Endosulfan is a health hazard. India is currently the largest exporter of Endosulfan in the world and it is used extensively in many states.

It has now agreed to a phased out ban with an exemption for some crops.

Activists too say this is a major victory but too late for those whose live have been destroyed at ground zero in Kerala's Kasargod, especially the poor farmers who widely use this pesticide because it's about 15 times cheaper than organic options.

"We are joining the consensus, but of course, we will look forward to adequate and timely work on safe and cost-effective alternatives being worked out in the phase-out period," said Gauri Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and head of the Indian Delegation in Geneva.

Eighty four countries had banned Endosulfan but India resisted it for the longest time, claiming there was no solid proof that it impacted human health.

But at the convention India was completely isolated, especially when China - also a user - supported a conditional ban.

It received a further setback when the Food and Agriculture Association of the UN stated it is hazardous.

In the run up to the Geneva meet, Kerala government had upped its protests where the Kasargod region had seen the maximum deaths among farmers who used the pesticide.

"It is happy news for us. But we are not only sticking to our demand for the ban. We are concerned about the victims," said Mohan Pulikodan, co-coordinator, Endosulfan Victims Support Aid Group.

Now India has bought itself more time to phase out the use and production of Endosulphan over the next 10 years. The biggest worries of the Indian government are a domestic pesticide industry worth Rs. 1,000 crore and the threat of a further rise in food prices - something the average Indian will not be able to stomach.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kerala to mark April 25 as anti-endosulphan day

'The long standing request of a financial assistance and a rehabilitation package for the victims of endosulphan is yet to be granted by the centre. We are now told a new study team from Delhi is to arrive in the affected areas. In the past one decade several studies have been conducted. This is not acceptable and deplorable that yet another team is coming,' said Achuthanandan.

Thiruvananthapuram, April 20 - Ahead of an international convention in Switzerland, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Wednesday said the state will observe anti-endosulphan day on April 25.

The announcement comes a day after the main opposition Congress urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure that India supports the global ban on endosulphan at the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants to be held in Geneva April 25-29.

'An all-party delegation led by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi would request Manmohan Singh to see that endosulphan is banned in the country,' said Achuthanandan.

The use of endosulfan at the estates of state-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala - in Kasargode district began in the early 1970s and continued till 2001.

About 500 deaths since 1995 have been officially acknowledged to be related to the spraying of endosulfan in about 11 villages. Unofficial estimates put the deaths since the late 1970s at around 4,000.

'The long standing request of a financial assistance and a rehabilitation package for the victims of endosulphan is yet to be granted by the centre. We are now told a new study team from Delhi is to arrive in the affected areas. In the past one decade several studies have been conducted. This is not acceptable and deplorable that yet another team is coming,' said Achuthanandan.

At least 81 countries have banned the chemical. Kerala and Karnataka have also banned endosulfan.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cancer risk doubled: Men's reproductive health jeopardized by pesticides

Cancer risk doubled: Men's reproductive health jeopardized by pesticides

From meager sperm counts to troubling prostate cancer risk, pesticides threaten men below the belt, which implies that regulations meant to keep pesticide use safe aren't working. 
Pesticides are a real buzz-kill when it comes to men's below-the-belt health. Mounting research shows certain bug, fungus, and weed killers wreak havoc on guys' hormonal systems, with some chemicals escalating male cancer risk while others sink sperm counts. A new study out of University of Southern California finds certain chemicals used to grow our food even increase the risk of prostate cancer.

""This is fairly compelling evidence that a number of chemicals widely used in the agricultural industry are strongly associated with prostate cancer occurrence,"" explains Myles Cockburn, PhD, assistant professor of research USC's department of preventive medicine.

""This tends to imply that our efforts to limit the dissemination of pesticide residuals into 'the environment' are ineffective."" That is, he says, while most of these chemicals are regulated to prevent groundwater contamination and airborne spread, this study implies that people are nevertheless being exposed, and at levels sufficient to cause harm.

The details: Cockburn's study found that different pesticides pose risks to men's health, and you don't have to live on a farm to be exposed. ""The most likely answer is that there is a complex interplay between genes and environment—for example, perhaps only those men with a specific genotype will develop prostate cancer when exposed to the pesticides we studied,"" explains Cockburn. ""If organic production became the norm, we'd also get rid of the exposures measured in this study—ambient pesticide occurrence,"" says Cockburn.

Methyl bromide, a fumigant being phased out due to its destruction of the ozone layer, can damage DNA. (Perhaps not much of an improvement, the replacement fumigant that will be pumped into the majority of strawberry fields in the country is the highly toxic methyl iodide.)

Looking at 173 men living in California's Central Valley, an area prone to pesticide use in agricultural fields, researchers mapped pesticide exposure through pesticide drift maps and found that men who were exposed to methyl bromide had a 62 percent higher risk of having prostate cancer.

Other organic chlorine pesticides actually fuel a gene that boosts the production of prostate cancer cells. In this study, men exposed to this class of bug-killing pesticides saw a twofold higher risk of developing prostate cancer when compared to men who were not exposed.

Captan, a fungicide used on about half of the apple orchards in the United States and most Florida strawberries, was associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer only at high doses.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Highly toxic chemicals found polluting West African coast

Africa coastline blighted by banned chemicals

by ClickGreen staff. Published Wed 06 Apr 2011 16:05, Last updated: 2011-04-06

An international team of scientists has found very high levels of carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) along the coasts of West Africa.

Production of these extremely toxic compounds has been banned in Europe and the United States for years. These harmful substances could come from the illegal dumping of waste or from an enormous ship breaking yard in Mauritania.

"We were not expecting to find such high levels of PCBs, highly toxic compounds that are considered as priority compounds by European legislation, in a region such as the western coast of Africa", Ailette Prieto, a researcher at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU-Spain) and co-author of the study.

PCBs, which some studies have shown to be carcinogenic compounds, were used years ago as dielectric fluids in transformers, condensers and coolants for various devices. However, their production was banned in the United States in 1979 due to their toxicity and persistence in the environment, and they were banned from 2001 onwards in countries such as Spain that signed up to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Compounds.

Now, the team led by researcher Rosalinda Gioia at Lancaster University, has shown that high concentrations of PCBs (between 10 and 360 picograms/m3) are found in some countries in West Africa, such as the Gambia and Ivory Coast, and all along this coast.

For this study, the scientists have carried out several years of research campaigns throughout the region over recent years, taking air samples from the German ship RV Polastern. They also gathered samples from land-based stations (Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Ghana), and used particle dispersion models to seek the possible sources of the contamination.

Gioia explains that the high levels of PCBs could come from more than one potential source – "the illegal dumping of waste containing these compounds – they can be released through volatilisation and uncontrolled burning – as well as the storage and scrapping of old ships". The study points particularly to the large ships' graveyard in the bay of Nuadibú (Mauritania), which is one of the largest in the world.

"Another possible source could be the burning of organic material from forest fires in the region, but we have ruled this out because such cases also release other contaminants (PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and we hardly detected any of these,” Prieto added.

The data for the study were collected in 2007 during the ship RV Polastern's scientific expedition from Germany to South Africa. The samples were collected using "sponges" that substances in the air stick to.

Subsequently, these samples were frozen and examined in European laboratories, including the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the UPV in Bilbao. The team repeated the expedition in November 2010, and the latest samples are currently being analysed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Survey identifies 4,000 victims of Endosulfan

Survey identifies 4,000 victims of Endosulfan
Roy Mathew

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Evidence is mounting on the ill-effects of Endosulfan sprayed on cashew plantations in Kasaragod district, even as the Union government continues to be ambivalent on the issue.

A survey done by the Health Department has identified nearly 4,000 victims after screening 16,000. The household survey and the screening done in 11 affected panchayats during December and January identified 3,937 victims, besides 336 in nearby panchayats. The numbers are likely to go up at least by 500 as the Health Department continues to receive complaints about non-inclusion on the list. The survey and accompanying studies officially confirmed the extent of damage done by the pesticide, which the Centre denies.

Mohammed Asheel, Assistant Nodal Officer of the Sneha Santvanam project, which is overseeing the remediation programme for the victims, says new cases will continue to be reported as the effects of Endosulfan will persist for another 20 years. The department has constituted an expert team to screen fresh cases.

Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar had maintained in Parliament that some States had opposed a national-level ban on Endosulfan. However, Right to Information activists have found out that no State government had so far written to the Centre opposing a ban. Only a few farmers and the ‘Endosulfan lobby' had argued against the ban. The Banerji Committee and R.B. Singh Committee, appointed by the Union government, had advised the government against use of Endosulfan near waterbodies.

Endosulfan is a broad-spectrum organochloride insecticide, which is very toxic to organisms and the environment. Studies in India and abroad had detected its residues in nearly 5,000 most widely consumed foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. High levels of residues were detected in all samples of cauliflower and brinjal taken in Ranchi (Jharkhand) in 2005. It has been found in grapes, guava, rice and mangoes in India (research studies by Shahi et al, Kumari et al, Singh et al, Jayashree and Vasudevan).

While acute toxicity from the chemical can cause death and several other problems, chronic exposure of smaller quantities of pesticide over a long period hits the immune, endocrine, reproductive and nervous systems, causing a wide range of problems. The health survey showed that 526 victims of Endosulfan in Kasaragod district were bedridden.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Address Japan Nuclear Threat with Truth and Precaution, not Misinformation

Dear friends,

We would like to share with you some insights from Pesticide Action Network Philippines on Japan’s nuclear crisis. The author, Dr. Romeo Quijano is a leading toxicologist in the Philippines. He is also the president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Philippines. In this short article, he outlines the gross misrepresentation of facts by the Philippine government on the health impacts of radioactivity. It also reiterates the need to build sustainable, safe and appropriate sources of energy. 

Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP)
Penang, Malaysia

Address Japan Nuclear Threat with Truth and Precaution, not Misinformation
The threat to Filipino health and environment from the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan is serious and should not be downplayed. This threat should be addressed with truth and precaution and not misinformation. Government officials and the mainstream media repeatedly claim that there is no possibility that the nuclear radiation from Japan will reach the Philippines and that the radiation leak is minimal and pose no significant health risks. This is gross misrepresentation of facts.
There is already a partial meltdown and it is not farfetched that a complete meltdown will occur, if it has not already occurred by the time this article is circulated. There is already a significant breach in the reactor core containment facilities, both immediate and secondary. There is no doubt that significant amounts of radioactivity had already been released into the open environment, exposing thousands of people within several kilometers radius. It is highly probable that this radiation pollution will worsen in the next few days and will most likely reach the Philippines.
The claim by Philippine authorities that the radioactive cloud will not reach the Philippines because the prevailing wind direction from the nuclear Fukushima Power Plant plant is way towards the Central Pacific is no reassurance because wind direction can change at any moment.
Furthermore, radioactive elements are extremely persistent and will inevitably affect practically the entire planet after some time. Levels of radiation in the nuclear disaster site have already reached alarming levels, forcing the evacuation of 750 workers involved in the desperate efforts to contain the damage. This is a clear sign that the situation is out of control. Earlier, dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported, more than enough to cause acute radiation sickness. Radiation levels in Tokyo has been reported to be 10-23 times the normal levels and in Saitama, near Tokyo, the levels were reported to be 40 times normal. These levels have been erroneously proclaimed to be “safe.”
It must be emphasized that, theoretically, no level of radioactivity is “safe.” While these levels are still quite low compared to levels known to be clearly associated with various illnesses due to exposure to radiation, there is a real risk that over time, additional cases of cancer, birth defects, immune disorders, and other illnesses would occur among the population exposed to these low level radiation, especially the more susceptible population groups such as women and children. Furthermore, it is not unlikely that the actual levels of exposure are higher than what is officially reported and given the fact that the situation is far far being controlled, more releases of radioactivity to the open environment is of high probability.
The Japanese reactor is reported to be one hundred times more powerful than the Chernobyl power plant, which exploded in 1986 and which resulted in worldwide radioactive contamination which continues until today and which will continue for many years to come. The two stations in the Fukushima region reportedly produce the world’s largest joint amount of energy. If complete meltdown occurs in any of the Fukushima reactors, this may lead to a much worse contamination of the atmosphere than the one that was caused by the Chernobyl disaster.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has expressed serious concerns on what is happening to the Fukushima reactors. The first is that the damage to the Unit 2 containment may be leaking gases and or liquids. Normally the reactor building is intended to act as a secondary containment and capture radiation leaking from the primary containment so that filters can remove the radioactivity before it is released to the atmosphere. But the reactor buildings for all three reactors have been damaged by explosions and no longer provide this secondary containment. So if the primary containment is leaking, then a core meltdown could lead to a very large release of radioactivity to the environment. The second concern is that even if the primary containment is currently intact, the Mark I containment system used in these reactors has a known vulnerability to meltdowns. Molten fuel that enters the primary containment area can melt through the wall of the primary containment—a situation called liner melt-through—which would also allow the release of large amounts of radioactivity to the environment.
The Mark I is unusually vulnerable to containment failure in the event of a core-melt accident. A recent study by Sandia National Laboratories shows that the likelihood of containment failure is nearly 42%. The most likely failure scenario involves the molten fuel burning through the reactor vessel, spilling onto the containment floor, and spreading until it contacts and breeches the steel containment-vessel wall. The Sandia report characterizes these probabilities as “quite high.”
The situation at the Fukushima plant is getting much worse. Larger radiation releases have occurred. The radiation levels around the plants have gotten so high that workers from the plants have been withdrawn. If efforts to cool the reactors are stopped or become completely ineffective, the result may be meltdowns of the fuel in all three reactors. Another concern expressed is the reported presence of mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel constituting about 6% of the core of unit 3. MOX is a mixture of plutonium and uranium oxides. The use of MOX generally increases the consequences of severe accidents in which large amounts of radioactive gas and aerosol are released compared to the same accident in a reactor using non-MOX fuel, because MOX fuel contains greater amounts of more the highly toxic radioactive elements such as plutonium, americium and curium. Because of this, the number of latent cancer fatalities resulting from an accident could increase substantially if there were a severe accident with core melt and containment breach.
What is happening in Japan should also serve as a clear signal to the Philippine government to junk completely the efforts to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). The probability of a similar catastrophe occuring if the BNPP is revived should not be taken for granted. The Philippines is vulnerable to earthquakes and the BNPP is situated on the slopes of a potentially active volcano. The reopening of the BNPP would not benefit the Filipino people but instead would expose us to unnecessary risks and potentially horrendous consequences.
What needs to be done is to reverse the privatization of the power industry and build sustainable, safe and appropriate sources of energy. At this time, a disaster preparedness program to address the potential health, environmental and socio-economic consequences of the nuclear disaster in Japan should be in place. The government claims to have a radiological preparedness plan but an “alert zero” declaration indicates an inappropriate plan with erroneous assumptions and interpretation of facts. Rather than downplaying the seriousness of the situation and nonchalantly dismissing the risks, the government should expand its radiation monitoring, immediately mobilize resources and implement precautionary measures to prevent or at least mitigate the potential effects of radioactive contamination.

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
College of Medicine
University of the Philippines, Manila

Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific
P.O. Box 1170, 10850 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: 604-6570271 or 604-6560381
Fax: 604-6583960
Home Page:

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is a global network working to eliminate the human and environmental harm caused by pesticides and to promote biodiversity based ecological agriculture. PAN Asia and the Pacific is committed to the empowerment of people especially women, agricultural workers, peasant and indigenous farmers. We believe in a people-centered, pro-women development through food sovereignty, ecological agriculture and sustainable lifestyles.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Online petition for global ban on ENDOSULPHAN

Dear friends,

the Indian pesticide industry has been blocking the Indian decision on edosulphan . We are urging govt of India to take urgent decision and support global demand for ban and inclusion in Annexe A of Stockholm Convention.

Please help us to get 500,000 signatures to demand the ban 

Please help to as many as you can
Online petition for global ban on ENDOSULPHAN:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

PAN Asia Pacific launches Rice Action campaign

Rice, the staple food of three billion people around the world, is at risk. Chemical-intensive farming practices have wreaked havoc on rice cultivation, particularly in Asia. 

Pesticide Action Network Asia/Pacific, with partners in 15 Asian countries, has launched Collective Rice Action, a campaign that will mobilize farmers, consumers and the media across Asia between January and March this year. Thousands of people will participate to celebrate and protect the strong tradition of rice cultivation around Asia. 

Industrial agriculture has resulted in poisoning people and rice fields with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, degraded soil, water and ecosystems — undermining centuries of farmer-led innovation and wisdom in rice cultivation. Traditional rice varieties, with their natural resilience and adaptation to local climates, soils and pest conditions, are being replaced en masse by hybrid varieties and genetically engineered (GE) rice. GE rice strains — with appealing names like Liberty Link and Golden Rice — pose environmental and, possibly, human health risks, and are certain to contaminate non-GE rice fields.

The Green Revolution in Asia introduced “high yielding varieties” of rice, which require large doses of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Rice consumers are put at serious risk from the use of hazardous pesticides in rice cultivation and the genetic engineering of rice seeds; while small-scale rice farming communities are among the poorest sectors in the world due to the impacts of imperialist globalization and corporate control over agriculture” says Sarojeni Rengam of PAN Asia Pacific.
This campaign to restore control of agriculture to farmers is part of PAN’s international  focus on food democracy the human right to safe, nutritious food that has been produced under fair and just conditions. In the month ahead we'll keep you updated about the Collective Rice Action campaign in Asia. 

Costa Rica With Increased Use of Pesticides In The World

A group of environmentalists have deployed actions against the use of pesticides in Costa Rica, with publicity events in the local agricultural (famers) markets in Zaporta and Hatillo, held this Sunday. According to studies by the Regional de Estudios en Sustancias Tóxicas (IRET) - Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances, shows that the use of agrochemicals has increased without increasing the agricultural areas. In other words, more chemicals in the same meal, said Fabrián Pacheco and Gabriela Cob, spokespersons for the environmentalists.

The two indicated that the amount of imported pesticides has increased by 340% in the last 30 years. In total, the country imported over 184.817 tonnes of pesticide from 1977 to 2006. All this went to the fields where our food is grown, they said. They said therefore they have developed the campaign "PAREN DE FUMIGAR" (STOP Spraying), which provides information for both producers and consumers to educate, raise awareness and ultimately reduce the levels of pesticides in our food. Sunday's action was accompanied by posters, percussion and even elements of impact as a colourful model of a sprayer airplane. This is one of several forms of activities to develop this campaign and will be visiting various agricultural fairs in the country.

Every Saturday and Sunday agricultural fairs are held in all communities across Costa Rica, as producers bring their crops directly to the public. In San José a permanent agricultural market is held every day, in the wee hours of the morning for local vendors to buy directly from the producers. Many consumers prefer the agricultural fairs to the supermarkets to buy their fruits and vegetables, one for the lower price and second for the freshness of the product. According to Estado de la Nación (The State of the Nation) report in 2009, Costa Rica imported over 300 tons of methyl bromide formulations - a substance regulated by the Montreal Protocol which contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer of the earth. Also imported were two highly toxic substances regulated by the Rotterdam Convention.

The crop with greater use of pesticides is the melon, followed by ornamental plants, tomatoes, potatoes, pineapple and sugar cane. The pineapple still tops the list of environmental complaints in the country. In response, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia (MAG) published a manual of good practice obligatory for pineapple producers.

What can we do as consumers?

- Although washing does not eliminate from food 100% of the poison applied it is a good practice

- Demand organic food or foods with low levels of pesticide use

- Attend fairs and markets of products without poison (like in Aranjuez, San Cayetano and Escazú, for example).

- Start a home garden. Small scale organic farming has proved very efficient

- Do not be so demanding on the appearance of products. The "perfect" vegetable is often the most fumigated.

- Demand that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health ban red label pesticides and more toxic (paraquat, endosulfan, methomyl, terbufos, methamidophos, phorate, malathion, carbofuran, ethoprophos, aldicarb, chlorpyrifos and methyl bromide)

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) the world champions of pesticide use are:

1. Costa Rica
2. Colombia
3. Holland
4. Ecuador
5. Portugal
6. France
7. Greece
8. Uruguay
9. Suriname
10. Germany 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Karnataka bans use of Endosulfan

The Karnataka government on Thursday banned the use of endosulfan, an insecticide, with immediate effect.

This has been a longstanding demand of the people of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi districts, and reports have it that lobby of manufacturers prevented the introduction of such a ban for several years. 

Briefing presspersons after the State Cabinet meeting, Minister for Higher Education V.S. Acharya said the Cabinet discussed the harmful effects of endosulfan on the health of farmers and people living in rural areas. The government will now invoke the provisions of the Insecticides Act, 1968 (a Central act) and write a letter to the Union Government about the ban. According to the provisions, the State government can write to the Centre, by virtue of which a ban can be imposed, albeit for a brief period. Minister for Energy, and Food and Civil Supplies Shobha Karandlaje, who has been spearheading a movement seeking a ban on endosulfan, said, “I am grateful to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and members of the Cabinet for approving the ban. It is unfortunate that the Union government is still bending to the lobby of endosulfan manufacturers. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should intervene in the matter, more so, since Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar has spoken in favour of the insecticide.” 

Kerala was the first State to ban endosulfan, on October 31, 2006.According to the Cabinet note, aerial spraying of the insecticide has resulted in several health problems such as children developing physical deformities and mental retardation, skin cancer, epilepsy, etc. Farmers are also complaining about the death of cattle for no apparent reason, and there have also been reports of fish kills.Studies on animals have shown that long-term exposure to low levels of endosulfan affects the kidneys, liver and foetuses. 

Endosulfan is primarily used during certain periods of the year. With the ban, the State can prevent its use for a period not exceeding 60 days. Aerial spraying of endosulfan was undertaken every year (from 1983) by the Karnataka Cashew Development Board in many villages in Puttur, Belthangady and Bantwal taluks in Dakshina Kannada. Over 60 countries have banned the use of this deadly pesticide after they found viable alternatives.