Yesterday [25 April] Kerala witnessed a large scale protest that cut across political parties of various hues. It was a protest against the use of a pesticide called Endosulfan. Endosulfan is one of the cheapest pesticides used in horticulture crops. The activists who demand the ban of the pesticide claim that “Endosulfan is a neuro-toxin, a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor.” Malayalam TV channels show regularly the pictures of many victims who have been severely affected by the use of the pesticide in their localities. The pictures are heart-rending; but not enough to move the hearts or brains of our political leaders, it seems. Dr Manmohan Singh and his ministers like Jairam Ramesh are waiting for more reports of casualties! The pesticide is already banned in Kerala.
Jairam Ramesh is of the opinion that there are lobbies working actively both for and against the pesticide and he does not want to fall prey to any lobby. He wants to study the effects of the pesticide scientifically before banning its use in the country. I would like to believe Ramesh is honest.
The simple fact is that Endosulfan is banned in more than 63 countries, including the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, and other Asian and West African nations, as well as the United States of America. Why should India wait for more proof, one wonders.
Today’s Business Standard reports that “Endosulfan formulators and manufacturers in India allege that the move to ban its use is a conspiracy by the EU and US to push in their costly products in India, as Indian companies manufacture and sell almost 70 per cent of the global production of Endosulfan. The remaining 30 per cent is shared between Brazilian and Israel-based companies.” Business Standard goes on to quote Pradeep Dave, president, Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India: “The truth is that the original manufacturer of Endosulfan, a German company, has not supported its new registration because it had a competing high priced product ready. Due to this, many European countries had stopped the use of Endosulfan. But there is no ban, as is being claimed. This is a conspiracy by multinational crop protection companies to push their costly products in India by the raising the bogey of health concerns.”
One litre of Endosulfan is priced at Rs 286, while its alternatives are priced between Rs 2,000 and Rs 13,000 a litre, according to Business Standard.
So, the games are for pushing costlier pesticides and not for promoting the well-being of the people or the environment! Or, are countries like India trying to give cheap pesticides to their farmers? But what will be the long term impact of the cheap pesticide on the health of the people and that of the environment?
How many centuries more should we wait for a human civilisation to bloom, a civilisation that will care for the welfare of all the creatures on the earth rather than that of a few policy makers whose concerns revolve round their bank balances?
Is India too joining those self-aggrandising policy makers? The Hindu reports [26 April] that “India is seeking a postponement of the decision on a global ban on Endosulfan to the next meeting of the conference of the parties to the Stockholm Convention in 2013.” India want to promote the interests of certain parties for one more year – but whose? The people’s or the industrialists’?
Note: All the pictures are shot from Asianet News TV channel.