The Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators’ Association of India (PMFAI), on the radar of some environmentalists and business lobbies, on Friday demanded the Central government to withdraw the “erroneous” report of the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) declaring endosulfan as a health hazard.
Describing the opponents of the insecticide as the agents of some European chemical manufacturers, the PMFAI claimed that imported substitutes to endosulfan would cost the Indian farmers dearly.
Pointing out at a media conference that the NIOH report had become an alibi for some non-governmental organisations working for an environmental cause and business lobbies to raise the anti-endosulfan propaganda, the PMFAI claimed that there was nothing to suggest that endosulfan was harmful to human health in any way.
The six committees set up by the Centre earlier had also concluded that endosulfan was not the reason for the alleged ill-health of the people at Padre village in Kasaragod district of Kerala, where the farmers had been using the insecticide for many years.
The diseases were found to be caused by some inherited genetic disorders that obtained even before endosulfan came to be used, PMFAI president Pradip Dave said. He alleged that the basic issue involved was “to protect the business interests of European chemicals manufacturers at the cost of the Indian farmers under the garb of environmental and health issues for which the NIOH report has come in handy.”
S. Ganesan, Chairman, International Treaties Experts’ Committee, said that these European chemical giants had decided to phase out endosulfan in 2001 as it was no longer profitable to them. Chemicals including pesticides and insecticides were the second largest traded commodity in the world, after fuel, in which the manufacturers of the European Union countries enjoyed a 60 per cent share in 2009. A ban on endosulfan to be substituted by other imported pesticides would immensely benefit these manufacturers, he alleged.
According to R. Hariharan, a representative of the International Stewardship Centre, India is the world’s largest manufacturer of endosulfan and has a 70 per cent market share of endosulfan business globally with exports worth Rs.180 crore annually. Gujarat alone produced about 55 per cent of the world’s requirements – of 40 million litres worth Rs.1,350 crore, while its imported substitute would cost the Indian farmers over Rs.4,500 crores, he claimed.
A farmer from Amreli district in Gujarat, Nayan Visavalya, claimed that he had been using endosulfan for many years and it had not caused health problem to his family or anyone in the village.