Strange is the interplay of money power, business interests and NGO politics. In most cases, farmers turn out to be victims. A recent notification of the Kerala government is a good instance. The State Government recently issued guidelines which render sale of pesticides illegal , unless supported by a prescription from an appropriate agricultural officer.
Behind this apparently innocuous notification lies a complex interplay of various interests. The ostensible object of the notification is to ensure a proactive remedy against health hazards caused by certain pesticides. The real purpose is to effectively proscribe a particular pesticide, viz. endosulfan blamed for certain incidents of congenital abnormalities, cancer and other diseases.
DEBATE OVER ENDOSULFAN
Endosulfan has been the subject of intense debate and controversy. Sixty nations have banned it — 27 belong to the European Union; the 21 African countries that have banned it have substantial trade with Europe known for its reservations against GM foods and pesticides in agricultural produce.
India accounts for about 70 per cent of the world production of this pesticide — about 12 million litres annually, valued at Rs 4,500 crore. The controversy is very similar to that concerning GM foods. European Union countries do not favour GM food items as they harm European pesticide interests. They also oppose pesticides that have ceased to interest them.
On the other hand, endosulfan is used on a very large scale by Indian farmers, particularly in horticulture and pulses. It is considered to be soft on pollinators such as honeybees and other beneficial insects such as ladybird beetles, though effective as a pest killer, acting through the digestive system. It is used for aerial sprays in the cashew plantations in Kasargode district of Kerala.
In the incidents reported from certain villages in Kasargode district , no conclusive evidence has been produced to show that the diseases were linked causally to endosulfan and nothing else. An independent study demonstrates that the symptoms in reported cases correspond to those of handi godu, attributed to chronic inbreeding in the region. Kasargode district represents a peculiar topography that is not ideal for aerial sprays. Endosulfan by itself applied locally might have produced no adverse effects of the alleged type.
The timing of the Kerala notification is ominous. A group of 172 nations is scheduled to meet in April 2011, under the auspices of the Stockholm Convention, to take a final decision on declaring endosulfan as a persistent organic pollutant (POP). India is opposed to such listing…http://bit.ly/proxybattle